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Managing Director User Voice

A unique opportunity to reinforce, strengthen and develop the leading organisation giving voice to people in the criminal justice system.

  • Location: Agile working with 2 days per week at London office
  • Salary: Up to £70,000 plus London weighting

When Mark Johnson MBE founded User Voice in 2009, involving people with lived experience of being in prison and/or on probation was largely unheard of and not funded.

It has now become a core part of the system. Both The Ministry of Justice and NHS England have developed national standards for giving people a voice and this commitment has been written into the new Probation Service operating model. They have even put out a contract for an organisation to build the understanding and capacity of their staff around this issue.

This is what Mark set out to do. To drive lived experience through the centre of the system. In this period User Voice has grown from Mark’s vision and some start-up funding, to the leading national organisation led by people who have been in prison and/or on probation working in health and justice.

It is a stable, sustainable and healthy charity with over 30 staff, working across the country.  It has given a voice to over 150,000 people and recruited, trained and supported over 5,000 elected representatives to make changes at a local, regional and national level. It has also employed over 300 people with lived experience.

Mark and the organisation has achieved much and at this major milestone Mark will now be transitioning to a role focusing on the development of User Voice Knowledge, leading on innovative research projects and talking on behalf of the organisation.

This now makes way for a focused, professional and values led Managing Director who will work closely with the board to develop the next strategy and to lead on the core business of User Voice. This will include the delivery of prison, probation, NHS and other contracted councils, leading the teams,  both at head office and around the regions. Importantly it will also ensure our operating processes, systems and structures are reinforced, developed, embedded and scalable so we are in the best shape possible to continue and grow our work.

To build on our impact to date our Managing Director will focus on consolidation and reinforcement to ensure the organisation is strengthened and can then look forward to capitalise on more opportunities for growth. Running in parallel with this will be a renewed focus on engaging with key stakeholders and partners to help us explore opportunities to extend our reach, continue to amplify our users’ voices and inform policy change.

User Voice is a unique organisation led by people with lived experience of the justice system. As a result it is much a movement as it is a business. So cultural fit is as important as anything else. Ideally (but this is not essential), the Managing Director should have their own lived experience of prison and/or probation but also have the professional skills and experience of scaling up and leading operational effectiveness and impact in a medium sized organisation.

User Voice Knowledge, the research and innovation arm of User Voice, has always been Mark’s future. A new Managing Director will enable Mark to take on a different role as Founder. This will free Mark to have the headspace and authenticity to be able to do what he does best externally – bringing work in, talking on behalf of the organisation, developing external relationships and leading innovative research projects.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

Philippa Fabry | philippa@peridotpartners.co.uk 07772 902071

Michael Earnshaw | michael@peridotpartners.co.uk  | 07494 595178


If you would like to know more about this role please contact Philippa Fabry

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Dear Candidate

We wanted to personally welcome you to User Voice and hopefully inspire you to apply to be our new Managing Director.

User Voice have been giving a voice to people in the criminal justice system since 2009 and our services and work provide a genuine platform to help people with lived experience of prison and probation to help themselves to stop reoffending and rebuild their lives.

By working directly with people in prisons and the wider criminal justice system and engaging with them with where they are at, we have developed critical insight and understanding that can support the system to innovate and change too.

Our services are needed more than ever. Resources continue to be invested in interventions that are simply not working for the people for which they have been designed. We believe that our participation in the process of government is the key to a lower crime rate and a more economic justice system.

There are many organisations that talk about lived experience. However, User Voice is different. With over 90 % of our staff having personal lived experience, we really do deliver authentic engagement to the front line.

This is an exciting time to join and lead the organisation. Mark Johnson, MBE, our inspirational founder is stepping into a new role focussed on knowledge and innovation. We have a strong and focussed Board of Trustees that are passionate about providing services and a voice for some of society’s most disadvantaged people and excited about the future of organisation.

We are looking for a strong and inspiring leader to work directly to the Board to deliver the organisation’s core services and to play a significant role in creating a new vision and strategy for the organisation.

We hope you feel excited about that opportunity too.

Mark Johnson (Founder) and Guy Robinson (Chair of the Trustees)

We give a voice to the people in the criminal justice system. Through their ideas we deliver change.

We were created by and are run by people who have been in prison and on probation. Lived experience means we engage empathetically instead of sympathetically.

We exist to reduce offending by working with the most marginalised people in and around the criminal justice system to make sure that practitioners and policy-makers hear their voices.

What we do

We build the structures that allow collaboration between the people using services and the people working in the criminal justice system.

We are able to do this because our work is led and delivered by people who have been in prison and on probation. This gives us the unique ability to gain the trust of, access to, and insight from people within the criminal justice system.

Since 2009

We’ve employed 300+ people with lived experience, including 170+ User Voice Volunteers, we have had 1,692 Ideas Implemented from service users through our councils and we’ve spoken to over 150,000 people about what it is like in prison and on probation. We have established over 40 councils in prisons and probation. We have created a national council with around 20 elected members at any one time from across the UK.

Our Councils

Talk is cheap. Our councils are about change. Change for the people on them and change from the people in the systems they are in.

We have developed a tried-and-tested council model that’s used in prisons and in the community: for probation, youth offending teams and other services that serve people in the criminal justice system.

It’s a chance for everyone on the wing or on licence to have their say with ideas and solutions.

If people with convictions are motivated to give feedback on their experience of services, it fuels a culture of continuous improvement within criminal justice. The opportunity to use their own experience is a way to grow peoples’ confidence, skills, and sense of accountability for their actions – the start of a process of rehabilitation.

Our Consultations

Our consultations are bespoke projects that help service providers, commissioners and policy makers access, hear and act upon the insight of their users.

These include research and specifically designed workshops run by service users working with their peers to gain insight and help design solutions. We have

included nearly 20,000 in over 80 peer research projects, influencing significant change to the system around drugs in prison, the response to the Covid pandemic, neurodiversity and the experience of young black and mixed heritage boys.

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs, and have made some modifications to the way we do business in order to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities. We offer the following amenities:

  • Our buildings and facilities have step-free access
  • Accessibility dogs are always welcome on our premises
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats if needed
  • We would be happy to source a sign language interpreter if required
  • We provide a flexible working environment, including locations

If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultants for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfil your needs.

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    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Job Description and Person Specification and complete this Equality Monitoring Survey.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting ‘Managing Director – User Voice’ into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

    Philippa Fabry | philippa@peridotpartners.co.uk 07772 902071

    Michael Earnshaw | michael@peridotpartners.co.uk  | 07494 595178

    We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.

    All applications will be considered solely on merit.

    Disabled applicants are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

    Closing date: Tuesday 19th April 2022

    Candidates informed of outcome: w/c 25th April 2022

    First Stage Interviews: w/c 2nd May 2022

    Second Stage Interviews: w/c 9th May 2022

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and User Voice are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring survey.

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    The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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