Professionals working with prisoners, ex-prisoners or those sentenced to community punishments in the North East have been presented with awards for their efforts to support rehabilitation and reduce re-offending.
The awards for helping people resettle in the community and rebuild their lives are given annually by Nepacs, the North East charity that works to support positive futures for prisoners and their families.
This year’s awards and certificates were presented by Paul Foweather, deputy director of custody for the National Offender Management Service North East and Yorkshire region, at an event on Tuesday 20 September 2016 at Lumley Castle in Chester-le-Street.
The awards celebrate projects that support prisoners planning for their release, and afterwards, working with agencies to help promote purposeful and communal activity and build self-belief, helping them re-establish themselves outside prison, securing accommodation, work and positive family relationships. It is usually when this resettlement fails that ex-offenders turn back to crime and inflict more damage on the community.
The four main Nepacs awards this year were presented to:
- Free the Way - a charity based in Seaham which helps and supports recovering addicts, offering accommodation, support and development, enabling them to escape the trap of dependence and to move on to independent living. Many recovered clients retain links with the organisation to become volunteers themselves.
- Jane Rayner - has been acting Activity Hub Manager at HMP Durham for the last year, managing and streamlining the organisation of activities within the prison, and forming strong relationships between partner agencies and the prison community. Not only has she given inspirational support to colleagues and staff, but also offered advice to other establishments, for which the Durham Hub has a national reputation for excellence.
- Peter Currah - a Recovery Coach for the Northern Engagement for Recovery from Addiction Foundation as part of Northumbria CRC service. Beginning as a volunteer, he progressed to becoming a full time paid recovery coach. His own experience has made him an excellent mentor of new volunteers, as well as fostering excellent working relationships with both North Tyneside and Gateshead IOM teams.
- Ian Currie - a prison officer at HMP Kirklevington who is very involved in family activities there. He is an ever-present at family days, involving himself in the entire process from preparing the space to engaging with the families and giving the men relaxation time afterwards, often in addition to his other prison duties. He has made innovative contributions to the content of father/child visits, and is also involved in the development of a new parenting course, at which he will deliver several sessions.
25 certificates of high commendation were also presented to the following individuals or teams who work in within criminal justice across the north east:
- Joanne O’Connor and Peter Grant - for their work setting up the Connect Network in the North East
- Joanne Pendelton and Sonia Moody - for their work in mental health care at HMP&YOI Low Newton
- Laura Bowie - National Careers Service Advisor, HMP&YOI Kirklevington Grange
- Northumberland Youth Offending Court Services Team
- Rachel Mackay - Resolve Treatment Manager, HMP Holme House
- Third Sector Team, HMP Northumberland
- Rob Stone - Mentor for CFO3, helping offenders into education and work across the North East
- Simon Stoker - for his work with Middlesbrough Troubled Families Team
- Sunderland Youth Offending Service
- Donna Pearson, Rob Garbutt, Gill Ismail, Susan Archer, Gareth Swan - for their collaborative work in final contact visits at HMP&YOI Low Newton
- DTV CRC Through the Gate Teams: HMP Durham; HMP Holme House; HMP&YOI Kirklevington Grange; and HMP&YOI Low Newton
- The Wise Group Through the Gate Team, HMP Durham
- The Wise Group Through the Gate Team, HMP Low Newton
- Rachel Richardson (DTV CRC), David Macdonald (Veterans’ Officer) and Tom Wilde (Northern Learning Trust Veterans’ Support Officer) - for collaborative work in HMP Durham in helping prisoners’ positive engagement with the prison system
Helen Attewell, chief executive of Nepacs, said: “Many of the people held in our prisons, or who are supervised in the community, have experienced multiple problems in their lives. Many have addictions, have experienced homelessness, suffer poor mental health, or have themselves been victims of violent or sexual crime.
“The move from custody to community can be a particularly difficult time for prisoners and their families as they attempt to establish a life free from offending. It is at this point that prisoners need a great deal of help and support to help them prepare for their release and to aid successful rehabilitation in the community.
“The Nepacs awards are our way of honouring the dedicated professionals working across the north east to make the difference to the safety of our society through reducing the risk of reoffending. As a result of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme, this year we were delighted to see an increase in nominations from a more diverse range of organisations, including the voluntary sector, who are all working together to reduce reoffending and support resettlement of prisoners in the north east.”