Our Meet the Member series shines a spotlight on the organisations and individuals working towards a fairer and more effective criminal justice system.
In the first blog of the series, we spoke to Mandy Mahil, Policy Officer at CJA member Working Chance. Mandy tells us what drew her to working in criminal justice, what it’s like working at Working Chance, and gives her advice to other policy officers in the sector.
Tell us about yourself
I was a medical student when I received a custodial sentence. During my time in prison, I saw the need to support prisoners with greater access to education, employment and opportunities for self-improvement.
After leaving, I returned to full-time education and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at King’s College London. As part of my course, I studied the economics of crime and assessed the ethical legitimacy of using incentives in prison. After graduating, I worked for a national hate crime reporting service as a programme management consultant and office manager.
I currently serve on the Board of Trustees for the Prisoners’ Education Trust, Unlock and Prisoners’ Advice Service.
What drew you to working in the criminal justice sector?
My lived experience of the criminal justice system opened my eyes to the realities of women in prison, many of whom suffer from mental health issues and domestic violence, and the need for that unique experience to be shared with sector practitioners. I want to highlight and share their stories and experiences to help inform, shape and improve the system.
Can you describe Working Chance in a few sentences?
Working Chance helps women with criminal convictions – most of whom have been in prison – to develop their employability, self-belief and find a job they can thrive in. Working Chance helps by supporting their journey through the employment process including work readiness workshops, disclosure training, confidence boosting workshops and bespoke recruitment services. Working Chance also advocates for policy change to shift perceptions of women with convictions.
What is your role? What does a typical working day look like?
I recently joined Working Chance as a Policy Officer with a focus on impact and evaluation. Working Chance provides women with convictions with an opportunity to gain meaningful employment. I’m passionate about supporting such initiatives and looking at how we can improve the services we provide to the women. With the current ongoing coronavirus pandemic, working from home means I am arranging virtual meetings with impact researchers from the sector.
What do you love most about working at Working Chance?
I love the people I work with and the non-judgemental environment where I feel like I can be myself. Everyone at Working Chance goes above and beyond and are genuinely committed to improving the prospects of the women.
What is Working Chance’s currently working on?
Since joining Working Chance we’ve been looking at how to improve our impact practice and analysis. This means we are reviewing our theory of change, evaluation frameworks and overall strategic development of the organisation. We want to ensure that we are supporting our clients in the best possible way to enable them to fulfil their potential.
Do you have any habits or routines that help you succeed?
I discovered very early on that I am a visual learner which is why I like to make use of a whiteboard both at work and at home. I have also learned that it’s important to have good mentors and strong role models in your life who can motivate you and help you succeed.
Do you have any hobbies?
I’m learning how to ride a motorbike and a few months ago had my first taste of riding a motorcycle with VC London – an awesome all-women motorbike collective whose mission it is to get more women on the open road.
The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
I’m quite old school with my music… My favourite song has to be ‘I’m Like A Bird’ by Nelly Furtado!
It’s got to be between Wonder Woman or Hot Fuzz.
I’m not listening to any podcasts at the moment but every now and again I play old episodes of The Ricky Gervais Show, which features Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington. I love Karl’s hilarious observations of the world – very amusing.
What advice would you give to someone else in your role?
I would advise them to network with everyone in the sector, stay up–to–date with what’s happening in the world and attend training courses. I’d also suggest learning from best practice as there’s already a wealth of knowledge out there.
If you’re a member and you’d like to be featured in our blog, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.