A new year brings the opportunity to think about what you have accomplished in the previous year and what lies ahead. Whilst some initiatives, like our Twitter feed, now feel well embedded there is a lot more that we could do to communicate with our members. With this in mind, I posted my first Twitter poll recently, asking my followers how we should expand our social media. Blogs won with a landslide victory, and so, I welcome you to my first Chief Executive blog. I am pleased and excited to take some space, longer than Twitter’s allotted 140 characters, to discuss our work with you.

My first blog is written, primarily, for ICVA’s members, those who manage local schemes that ensure that detainees receive visits. ICVA is in place to support our members and one of the ways we do this is by offering training.

I joined ICVA as, like many other publicly funded bodies, our funding was cut. This reduction in funding means that we need to make every penny count. Our training and membership review sought to do just this. ICVA’s Project Manager, Sherry, has travelled across the UK to meet you and to hear about your views.

So – what did she find out?

Firstly, we are keenly aware that our scheme managers are deeply invested in your volunteers and you were all engaged on the topic – this is brilliant as quality visiting relies on quality training.

The review revealed many other findings. ICVA offered every member a face-to-face training session this year. Slightly fewer than half of our members take this offer up, meaning that this expensive benefit isn’t used by half of schemes each year. We want to support all of our members and this uneven uptake is something we’d like to change.

Police custody has been in the spotlight over recent years and there have been important reforms in attitude, guidance and policy. ICVA’s training must be updated to reflect these changes and ensure training stays relevant. I spend a significant proportion of my time working with national partners on changes to custody. ICVA is perfectly placed to offer ongoing updates and leadership; we should do so.

The review also picked up issues on the format of training. The current induction package cannot be completed in a day and volunteers have many pressures on their time, making longer classroom training difficult to arrange. Custody suites differ hugely across the UK and the current training isn’t tailored to local difference. Finally, ICVA’s training is all contained on DVDs – a technology that feels increasingly moribund in the age of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

So the training needs to change, but how can this best be achieved?

ICVA’s core offer provides induction training for new ICVs. This training needs to equip volunteers, who may never have been in custody before, to be content to go into custody and shadow experienced visitors. We need to be confident that our induction package delivers these outcomes. We will therefore be completely redesigning the induction module. We will provide a brand new package, comprising different elements to be completed both inside and outside the classroom environment. This will give your new recruits background understanding before they enter the classroom and equip them to undertake their new role.  It can also help to engage new recruits on their new role whilst security checks are underway.

We will also provide new TACT training sessions for members with TACT detention facilities to ensure a contemporary package that empowers ICVs to visit this high-profile area. The training will cover both the required legislative background and the humanitarian drivers of the work that we do.

Police custody is seeing many changes and ICVs need to be kept aware of reforms to ensure that they can be effective in their roles. However, as volunteers, their time is precious and under pressure with competing demands. We are therefore delighted to be offering our scheme managers six bite-sized training modules that can be delivered during regular Panel meetings. The modules will cover key issues like children in custody and mental health. However, the remaining topics will be chosen by you, our members, ensuring that we are delivering the support that you need.

Finally, we will upload all support to our members’ website, making sure that it’s accessible even when you’ve lost your DVD or can’t find a working DVD player (this happens more often that you’d expect).

ICVA has been lucky to have a dedicated trainer over recent years. Unfortunately, we will no longer be offering to deliver face-to-face training ourselves. We can, simply, no longer afford to do so. However, we are happy to be replacing this service with train-the-trainer sessions that will take place across the UK. Many of you told us that you already deliver the training, or would like to be empowered to do so. By giving scheme managers the skills that you need to deliver training, you will be able to tailor ICVA’s package to your local area. It will also ensure that both ICVA and your ICVs invest in you, as the scheme manager for your local area. In this way, we can improve take up of the training and be certain that we have consistent quality matched with local requirements.

We are hugely excited about the new training. Sherry has already started work on the new induction and TACT training and will be working with members every step of the way. We’re excited to try new bitesize sessions and are looking forward to updating you and your volunteers on important reforms.

Of course, training is just one part of your membership benefits and I will talk about others in forthcoming blogs.

In the meantime, Team ICVA looks forward to working with you in 2017.

Katie Kempen, Chief Executive.

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