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ELEVATE CJS lived experience leadership programme


Launched in 2022, ELEVATE CJS (Elevating Lived Experience Voices Advocacy Training and Expertise in the Criminal Justice System) is a twelve-month leadership programme that promotes the redistribution of power to people with lived experience of the criminal justice system. The CJA’s definition of ‘lived experience’ is broad and includes, for example: Experience of being over-policed, in prison or on a community sentence, a victim of crime, having family member(s) in prison, etc.

It includes weekly online and monthly in-person workshops, coaching, clinical supervision, residentials, action research projects, a senior level work placement and a shadow board placement.

Read about the ELEVATE CJS launch event

Through personal and professional development training, the programme aims to help emerging lived experience leaders progress into rewarding careers where they can influence change in the criminal justice system or other social justice areas. ELEVATE CJS will also work with government and sector employers to remove barriers and develop progression routes into senior positions for lived experience leaders. For example we have campaigned for criminal record reform and improvements to the current vetting process to work in prisons

The programme was informed by two years of peer research and was co-designed with members of our ELEVATE CJS Advisory Group, chaired by CJA trustee CJ Burge, building on research from the CJA’s 2019 Change from within report.

Who is eligible to apply?

The leaders eligible to apply for the ELEVATE CJS leadership programme must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Based in Greater London
  • Have lived experience of the criminal justice system*
  • Have been in paid employment in the criminal justice sector for at least two years, and
  • Want to be a leader for change in the criminal justice system

Application details for the 2024 programme will be announced at a later date on this page. You can also follow ELEVATE CJS on Twitter for updates: @elevatecjs.

Read about the 2022 ELEVATE CJS taster day


Tasha Cowperthwaite

Tasha joined the CJA in October 2023 as ELEVATE CJS Project Manager. Boasting extensive community engagement experience, Tasha founded Strive 2 Thrive Lancashire CIC and is a partner in the Cultural Exchange 2023 programme delivered by Social Ark.

Contact Tasha:

Eulina clairmont

Eulina joined the CJA in April 2023 as ELEVATE CJS Project Officer. Fully committed to helping people tackle disadvantage and improve life chances, Eulina is a volunteer mentor at ReachOut, a national mentoring and education charity.

Contact Eulina: