NoOffence! began ‘life’ on LinkedIn, in a group, which is still going strong and has members involved in justice from all over the world.
We recognised the significant need for all parts of justice to be able to come together: to communicate, to engage and to work together, whether you are prison, probation, police for example or involved with health, education, etc. and working in custody or the community.
Our ethos, and the double meaning for our name suggests that everyone should have a voice and be able to ‘voice’ their opinions without anyone taking ‘offence’ and realise our vision of reducing the number of offences and re-offences taking place. There is also a third meaning – that we don’t “sit on the fence” – we all have opinions, and we should be able to express them without prejudice.
Whilst the ‘group’ started and very quickly grew in ‘cyberspace’ it quickly became apparent that those who joined the group and became ‘members’ wanted more then the virtual engagement the group offered them and we received repeated requests to organise an event where the members could actually ‘meet’ in person.
It was evident that the timing and appetite was right for greater engagement within justice, and the need for a group in what became our ‘pilot’ on Linkedin was proved by the steep increase in membership, but we knew it would take time with no guarantees to attract funding to start a social business, so we took what was possibly a fool hardy decision to fund the start up ourselves from personal funds. We estimate that it took an initial investment of £30k.
What self-funding did allow for was for us to respond to the need in a timely fashion and without delay and to set the direction and manner in which we proceeded ourselves.
We are also very proud that we have developed a business model, not dependent on funding but on generating its own income from trading, and we have achieved this with 98% of our income in our first 2 years, coming from trading. We did not want to become another burden on the already stretched to capacity justice sector, but it does also mean that we are truly independent!
We knew that we alone did not have all the answers, so we began by inviting a number of key people to join us, in a volunteer advisory capacity. Our Advisory Board, Ambassadors and Patrons associated with us has continued to grow and we are forever grateful to the input and support so many people have given NoOffence, which has guided us on this exciting journey, treading new ground, developing a unique information exchange organisation, providing access to people, information, news and opportunities from across the world of justice, a concept and resource that has never been seen before.
Now, over 3 years on, we are the recipient of a number of awards ourselves for our work, and we continue to grow from strength to strength, expanding our reach and investing in projects and ways to support justice through for example our conferences, Redemption and Justice Awards and targeted projects such as Unlock Your Future, which all aim to break down barriers, increase opportunities and support justice, in which we hope to see a future with fewer victims as a result of changed lives and reduced criminal behaviour, achieved through better, more effective, approaches to rehabilitation and behavioural reform.