Learning to say no: Ensuring a sustainable future for Positive Prison? Positive Futures…

Miriam Cunningham
Project Manager, Pilotlight

This year we’re celebrating 10 years of Pilotlight in Scotland and are sharing some of our stories from our work over the last decade. Project Manager Miriam Cunningham shares her experience of working with Positive Prison? Positive Futures… (PPPF) a 2016 Pilotlight Partner Charity. Through the Pilotlight programme, PPPF went from “an organism to an organisation” (Pete White, CEO).  How did that happen? 

The Challenges

PPPF is a young and ambitious charity that draws on the user voice of people who are or have been subject to punishment, to improve the effectiveness of Scotland’s criminal justice system.  It aims to reduce the harms caused by crime and support the re-integration of people with convictions, and engages with Scottish Government, parliament, local authorities, and other third sector organisations, to bring about change and create a fairer society.  In its first two years PPPF had experienced rapid growth and had found itself responding to many demanding opportunities. It came to Pilotlight for support with three key things - sustainability, succession planning, and security. As Pete said, they “quite consciously didn’t have a plan, but a direction”, however he knew this needed to change if they wanted to secure the future of the charity.

The Pilotlight Programme

Through careful listening, questioning, and challenging, the Pilotlighter team uncovered key person dependency on Pete as a serious risk to the charity. They also identified the need to refine and clarify PPPF’s vision and purpose, in order to help Pete know when to say yes and when to say no to the many opportunities coming their way. They supported the charity to develop a new organisational structure and recruit a deputy manager for Pete.  They then looked to the vision and purpose, and helped to shape some solid social and business objectives to take the charity forward.  

The Results

The result was a new organisational structure and a written strategy that PPPF could take forward and share externally.  More importantly however – was the change in Pete who emerged as a new and stronger leader by the end of the process.  

As Pilotlighter Stuart McMaster of Alliance Trust commented: 

At the start of the project he was uncomfortable, stressed, and over-worked but by the end he’d become confident and in control of the charity’s future."

By the end of the process PPPF had harnessed and focused its energy, and strengthened its structure to become more resilient.  At our recent 6 month follow up meeting, Pete described the engagement with Pilotlight as “life-changing on both a personal and professional level”. In his words,

The way the charity moves forward will be different and entirely more effective."

Are you looking to develop your coaching skills? Pilotlight can offer you a really rewarding programme where you can not only develop your skills, but through our programme you can also contribute towards positive social change. For more information on this click here: http://www.pilotlight.org.uk/members 

Celebrating 10 years in Scotland, Growth & Sustainability, HR & Leadership


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