This evening I'm attending Leicestershire & Rutland Probation Trust's annual Diversity Reception, which is being held in Harvest City Church, St Margaret's Business Centre.
The theme of this year's event is "Young Men & Women: Making the Transition from Offender to Responsible Citizen".
After the chance to eat and drink from the buffet provided by Green's Delicatessen and Outside Catering Service, from Loughborough (nice range of vegetarian food, all clearly marked) while enjoying live music from guitar and keyboard duo, The Untouchables, we take our seats for the welcome and introduction by Helen West LRPT's Chief Executive. We're given an overview of the Trust's 2012 diversity programme that looks at issues affecting the under-25 age group, as well as a brief review of the Trust's progress through last year's diversity programme, working with individuals with hidden disabilities, such as Autism and Asberger's Syndrome.
There are short, informative presentations from a panel of ten staff members, broken down into general topics relevant to this evening's theme: Relationships and Lifestyles; Education, Training and Employment; and Accommodation. As an introduction to each of these themes, we hear three dramatised monologues, based on real-life experiences of service users, delivered by members of Off the Fence Theatre Company.
I've been to several of the Trust's Diversity Receptions during my five years in post and I have to hand it to them: they really know how to mix it up and present something fresh each year.
At the end of the Q&A, I get a few minutes to plug the forthcoming Choice Unlimited event, since both that occasion and this reception focus on the same age group.
Despite the fact that the Leicestershire & Rutland Probation Trust is one of the most effective organisations at putting diversity close to the top of its agenda, there has never been any meaningful working relationship between it and Leicester Council of Faiths. I hope that can be rectified in the near future.
I'm also glad of the opportunity to do some positive networking with some of the other guests - particularly Cllr Sarah Russell, who is standing as the Labour Party candidate for the new post of elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We have an interesting chat about religiously motivated Hate Crime in the city and county and the relationship (such as it is) between Leicester Council of Faiths and agencies like the Safer Leicester Partnership.