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Professionals working with prisoners, ex-prisoners or those sentenced to community punishments in the North East are being given the chance to get recognition for their efforts to reduce re-offending by entering the 2018 Nepacs Awards.

2018 is a special year for the Nepacs awards as they have now been renamed in honour of long standing Nepacs’ patron Ruth Cranfield but will continue to recognise the innovative work taking place across the North East to help offenders to resettle in the community and rebuild their lives.

Since the 80s Ruth Cranfield has exerted an enormous effect on Nepacs’ development, and has been a key member of the Board of Trustees. She organised and inspired a small voluntary committee to review the work of Nepacs and look at opening the first visitors’ centre in the north east at HMP Durham. Her commitment, drive and dedication has inspired many to join Nepacs and continue to build her vision of a volunteer-based society dedicated to improving the support given to offenders and their family and friends, in order that they have a better chance of successfully rehabilitating themselves in society.

Nepacs is commemorating her contribution by renaming the annual Nepacs award for outstanding contributions to the rehabilitation of offenders within the North East as the Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Awards, and elevating her status to patron.

Dame Glenys Stacey DBE, HM chief inspector of probation, will present this year’s awards and certificates at an event taking place in September 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, 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 awards are open to individuals or teams who work in probation/CRCs, prisons and youth offender institutions, the voluntary sector or other agencies working within criminal justice across the North East. Nominations will be accepted from anyone working within these organisations.

Helen Attewell, chief executive of Nepacs, said: “Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Awards reflect the spirit and dedication shown by our patron in challenging entrenched beliefs about crime and offending.  Ruth strongly advocates that ex-prisoners can and do turn their lives around with the right support and help from criminal justice staff and volunteers.  If people have housing, a steady income and their health, and especially if they feel their responsibilities as a family member, then there is every chance of a crime free life on release.

“Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Awards pay tribute to those staff and volunteers working within the criminal justice system who go above and beyond in helping prisoners and their families get through a very difficult time, giving them the tools and motivation to stay clear of crime in the future.”

For details on how to make a nomination visit the Nepacs website www.nepacs.co.uk

The closing date for nominations is Tuesday 29 May 2018.

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