How do we measure ‘success’ in community justice?

Organisations working with people in the justice system are frequently asked to show some kind of measure of success, to measure if a project, service or model is effective. When public money is involved it is a reasonable question and while statistics and numbers do matter, it is perhaps the human stories that are more illuminting.

What does success look like to you?

With thanks to Kim McGuigan and Karyn McCluskey

At the recent national Community Justice event in Edinburgh, Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland, asked Kim McGuigan to join her on the platform to share an email she had recently sent Karyn about what success looks like to her. This was a question Karyn had posed to Kim some years before. We’re sure you will agree the reply is worth the wait …

Hi Karyn

I have a reply to the question you asked me a few times.

At first I thought it was just about getting a job but I’ve soon learned the job is a bonus at the end of the journey. I’ve never been able to get that question out my head I think it was about 3 years ago the first time you asked me🙈

“What does success look like to you?”

This is my version of success.

Success to me means being able to look in the mirror every morning and like what I see knowing I’m not perfect but I’m me, I’m alright.

Since I finished college and got a job I feel proud, I feel confident, I feel like a person a proper person. I feel part of my community & I feel like I belong.

Success is me knowing that I am worthy, I am important and I have the right to live a life free of labels, stigma and shame, I had a right to live and break the cycle I was born into so that my son didn’t have the same outcome.

Success to me is going to my son’s parents nights 4 years in a row his school teachers have all said the same thing each year that he is a privilege to have in class and he is always trying to help other people.

Success is me waking up every morning to a happy wee boy singing and smiling and telling me he loves me.

Success is about me unlearning everything I thought to be true and stripping it all back and rebuilding myself into the woman I was destined to become.

I’m Kim McGuigan I am a mother, someone’s partner, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague, I get to be a voice for all the other Kim’s out there but I got to be the voice I needed for myself.

I am here in the moment I’m living and I’m proud of myself, it’s took many obstacles and learning processes to get me here today but I did it. sometimes I don’t even know how I did it because the days where so dark and full of self doubt, but I keep pushing I had no other choice, I couldn’t go back.

I had already dipped my feet in a new life, I liked it but something was still missing!

It was me, I was drifting through life, I wasn’t living I was stuck in my own head, a never ending battle with who I should be and who I was, I was lost! I was stuck in the past I was still a wee lassie waiting for someone to save me.

Success happened the day I chose to save myself !

With the right support network and giving myself a break allowing myself to taking the time to get to know me and what I liked and wanted out life, I’ve been able to free myself of the need for chaos and dysfunction I no longer stay in comfort zones.

I’m no longer ruled by fear and feeling worthless. I am free, i am happy, I am success ❤️