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Awards give recognition to work to reduce reoffending in the north east

Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Award winners 2023

Individuals and teams working with prisoners, ex-prisoners or those serving community sentences in the North East have been presented with awards for their efforts to reduce reoffending by long standing charity Nepacs.

Nepacs has been making awards to professional and voluntary workers throughout the region over the last 18 years to highlight the work of exceptional individuals and teams for innovative good practice in promoting rehabilitation of offenders.  Nepacs is a long established charity which aims to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families who have been negatively impacted by contact with the criminal justice or care systems.

Since 2018 the awards have been named in honour of Ruth Cranfield, who sadly died last year, who had the vision and energy to organise the beginnings of Nepacs in its present day form, and the charity wants to continue to reward, promote and celebrate that kind of commitment in others working in the difficult climate of today.

This year’s awards and certificates were presented by guest speaker Pia Sinha, Director of the Prison Reform trust at an event on 14 September 2023 at Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street.

The four main awards this year were presented to:

  • FREE (Female Recovery Through Experience and Empowerment) Women’s Group – set up in April 2022 at Sherburn Hill Hub by Marie Warby, Peter Stobart and Michael Robins of the Integrated Offenders Unit, Durham Police, is a group for and provided by women with experience of or in danger of domestic violence, addiction or mental health problems. In its first 10 months it provided support in a women-specific safe space for well over 100 women throughout County Durham, and goes from strength to strength. Women have gone from being quite isolated to delivering their own sessions in a large group environment.
  • Dean Storey, Prison officer, HMP Deerbolt – for work with young men who have committed violent crimes and have long sentences, many of whom have had no constant male figure in their lives before. He will work extra hours and during his annual leave when he has felt it necessary for individuals he is working with on a one-to-one basis. He has been supportive of gang members —developing workshops and breaking down barriers between rival gangs, resulting in friendships between once-rivals, a decrease in violence, and positive attitudes towards rehabilitation. He also facilitates the meeting of new fathers with their new babies, supporting families before the visit and providing gift boxes for each mother to give to the father.
  • Rob Binns – Since his conviction some years ago, Rob has made a complete turnaround in his life with Restorative Justice (RJ). Working with Safer Communities he developed a strong commitment to personal change, leading to a passion for restorative practice as a means to offender rehabilitation, and becoming an RJ Ambassador working within both community and custodial settings. In addition to peer support and featuring in promotional films, he hosted a lived-in experience webinar, and contributed to a local consultation event hosted by the All-Party Group on RJ. He also featured in a new podcast Resolution, appearing alongside the victim of his crime.
  • Chris Sopp, dependency and recovery navigator for Ingeus CRS – for his work helping men overcome substance misuse issues. On release from prison he was referred to Ingeus’s Personal Wellbeing Service, after which he signed up for their peer mentor programme, moving on to employment in the Northumbria Dependency and Recovery team. He has excelled in providing tailored support, emotional, practical and motivational for each individual, gaining accolades from service users and Probation colleagues.

A lifetime achievement award was also presented to Lesley Winn. Lesley has served 30 years in the Probation Service in the North East. After volunteering as a student with Stockton’s Rape Crisis and Victim Support team, she joined the management team working with Holme House and Probation. After two years as a social worker, in 1999 she became Probation Officer in Hartlepool, working primarily with sex offenders, going on to work with the PPU in Middlesbrough, at HMP Holme House as MAPPA Coordinator and Child Safeguarding Officer, then to PPU Durham where she had responsibility for all sex offenders in the Darlington area for 2 years, She then returned to Middlesbrough until her part-retirement in 2022. Despite reaching retirement age and having health problems Lesley remains dedicated to working with people on probation and continues to be a valued member of staff.

28 certificates of high commendation were also presented to the following individuals or teams:

  • Katie Charalambous & Abby Hodgson, Newcastle Probation, for exceptional work with a challenging case.
  • Karen Carson, Sunderland Probation, for long-term support of a client.
  • Peterlee Probation Service Teams, a great example of locally provided services.
  • Alison Hopson, Durham Probation, Peterlee, for her work with Foreign National offenders.
  • Jacqueline Cartwright, Cleveland Probation Court Services, for her tenacious work, particularly during the pandemic.
  • Michael Wood & Felicity Penny, HMP Durham RC Chaplaincy, for their sensitive pastoral care and inclusivity.
  • Integrated Support Unit, HMP Durham for their support of both inmates and staff.
  • Separation & Care Unit, HMP Durham for their work in a sensitive and difficult area.
  • Linda Aston, Public Protection Administrator, HMP Northumberland for her 40 years of exemplary service.
  • Nicola Fawcett-Franey, Supervising Officer, HMPYOI Deerbolt for her commitment and passion.
  • Kate Shreeve, Spectrum Community Health CIC, HMPYOI Deerbolt, for a superb work ethic.
  • Leigh Frost & Spectrum Community Health Care, HMP Kirklevington Grange for supporting a patient with unique health challenges.
  • Hayley Strachan, IAG Advisor, People Plus, HMP Kirklevington Grange for caring and proactive support to prisoners.
  • Tina Riley, HMP Kirklevington Grange for work as a Shannon Trust Champion.
  • Beth Morris, Strategic Housing Specialist, HMPs Kirklevington Grange & Holme House, making Kirklevington the top-achieving prison for accommodation on release.
  • Veterans’ Unit, HMP Holme House, for excellent and innovative work.
  • Central Detail Team, HMP Holme House, tremendous support of staff from behind the scenes.
  • Derek Foster, HMP Holme House, for his 32 years in the prison service.
  • David Hammond, HMP Holme House, for his work as dementia lead.
  • Gemma Fawcett Smith, Tracey Forster, & Pam Jenkins for supporting neurodiversity, HMP Holme House.
  • Money Mindset Team, The Wise Group, for supporting males in custody with financial affairs.
  • Reconnected to Health partnership, North East Prisons, top-performing region for wellbeing outcomes: Emma Bate & Caroline Houghton, Rethink; Amy Levy, Humankind and Sarah Dodds, Spectrum CIC
  • Ingeus Dependency and Recovery Service, for an outstanding partnership: Ruth Horn, Recovery Navigator and David Southern, Recovery Guide
  • Darlington Council Future Pathways, for their continuingly evolving approaches to intervention with troubled young people: Darlington Council’s Young People’s Engagement and Justice Service, Civic Enforcement Service Future Pathways, and Darlington Neighbourhood Policing Team

Amanda Lacey, chief executive of Nepacs, said:
“The Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Awards highlight and celebrate examples of exceptional work by our partner colleagues in the North East in reducing the risk of reoffending. Our aim is to celebrate good work and to ensure innovative practice and ideas are broadcast as widely as possible so that they can be replicated elsewhere.

“I would like to congratulate and thank everyone who was nominated or received an award for going above and beyond to make a difference to the lives of people involved in the criminal justice system who want to turn their lives around. We are particularly pleased to hear about the work of those with lived experience of the criminal justice system and how they are helping to make a difference for others in a similar situation. All of our winners and recipients of certificates have gone the extra mile to help support a positive future for their clients and offer hope for the future.”

Pia Sinha, director of the Prison Reform Trust, who presented the awards said: “It was such an honour to be at the Nepacs Ruth Cranfield awards. People working within the criminal justice system need to be celebrated and admired as beacons of hope. Today we celebrated the best of the best. From community to custody, through the gate and beyond, these worthy winners show us the value of resilience and selfless service. Congratulations to all the certificate and award winners and thank you for all that you do.”

Further information on the Nepacs’ Ruth Cranfield awards and previous winners HERE.