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 reduce re-offending by north east charity Nepacs.

The awards have been running since 2004 and in 2018 were renamed in honour of long standing Nepacs’ patron Ruth Cranfield who had the vision and energy to organise the beginnings of Nepacs in its present day form. Nepacs want to ensure their Awards reward, promote and celebrate that kind of commitment in others working in the difficult climate of today.

Each year the Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Awards recognise north east prison staff, probation/CRC staff, voluntary sector and other professionals to highlight the work of exceptional individuals and teams or innovative good practice in promoting rehabilitation of offenders.

This year’s awards and certificates were presented by Dr Jo Farrar, chief executive of HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) at an event on Wednesday 18 September 2019 at Lumley Castle in Chester-le-Street.

The awards celebrated projects that support prisoners planning for release and afterwards, working with agencies to help promote purposeful and communal activity and build self-belief, helping them to re-establish themselves outside prison, securing accommodation, work and positive family relationships.

The five main awards this year were presented to:

Joe Howard, Senior Probation Officer and Court Manager at Teesside Courts, has been the driving force behind Project Delta, identifying and facilitating means to help first time offenders gain bail referrals and thereby avoiding custodial remands, and easing the process of going into imprisonment for both offenders and their families, keeping ties strong and impacting on intergenerational offending in the future.

Peter Grant, Outreach Worker,  Junction 42 Foundation – He has worked for over 10 years with inmates of HMP Northumberland, transforming many lives through his belief that for each individual change is always possible. Inside he has introduced creative learning to support skill development and thereby self-belief, forming a basis for employability, as well as running Christian faith groups, offering everyone the possibility of change. Outside he has supported individuals on release and has pioneered a faith resettlement community, ‘Connect’, an informal setting to help them move forward with their lives.

Mark Davies, Volunteer Community Peer Leader, Durham Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner (PCVC) – Coming from a difficult and abusive background himself he has turned his life round to support vulnerable and unengaged members of society, befriending and supporting individuals throughout the county, as well as challenging poor and anti-social behaviour through sharing his own experience, with practical guidance on a one-to-one basis.

Graeme Jones, is instructor at the Bike Workshop at HMP Deerbolt. Working with the Margaret Carey Foundation, unwanted bikes are collected across the North and Midlands, repaired, and redistributed to those in need in the UK or abroad. The young men working there are encouraged to feel ownership of the workshop, taking on responsibility and decision-making themselves, and Graeme has developed a portfolio system where they can record their achievements and demonstrate employability. He has also completed training himself which will enable the workshop to offer accredited qualifications.


HMP Holme House Mental Health Team – Multiple nominations for these individuals led them to receive a team award for their joint work, where their professionalism, compassion and vision are making such a difference. New initiatives include a well-being gym and activity group, work on trauma, a ‘Hearing Voices’ Support Group and the raising of the profile of the team within the prison, as well as beginning work on establishing similar activities in other prisons. This collaborative holistic and therapeutic approach is also extended to staff well-being in this difficult area.

27 certificates of high commendation were also presented to the following individuals or teams who work within criminal justice across the north east:

  • Out of Court Disposals for Women Team, Changing Lives and Northumbria Police (Charlotte Johnston, Amy Blythe, Clare Russell)
  • Stephen Davison, Forensic Cluster Lead Psychologist – HMPPS Psychology Service for Prisons, Yorks and North East
  • Gateshead Housing Company
  • Craig Phipps, Custodial Manager, HMP Durham
  • Chris Lamb, ISU Discipline Officer, HMP Durham
  • Lesley Dixon, Acting Custodial Manager, HMP Durham
  • Family Liaison Team, HMP Durham
  • Joanne Mounter, Troubled Families Employment Advisor, Darlington Borough Council
  • Hilary Askin, Nepacs’ Visitors’ Centre Manager, HMP Holme House
  • Ayshea Winchester, Safer Custody Manager, HMP Holme House
  • Gemma Bartlett, OSG, HMP Holme House
  • DCRU Team, HMP Holme House
  • Elaine Ravenhall, Team Leader, Wise Group
  • Enhanced Through the Gate Project Board, Northumbria CRC
  • Kevin Jones, Shelter advice and support worker, Northumbria CRC
  • Mick Lewis, Governor of Reducing Re-offending, HMP&YOI Deerbolt
  • Jonathan Hall, Offender Supervisor, HMP&YOI Deerbolt
  • Andrew Haslam, Head of Reducing Re-Offending, HMP Kirklevington
  • Job Club Team, HMP Kirklevington
  • Marc Cardus, Officer, Westgate Unit, HMP Frankland
  • Susan Lee, Prison Officer, J Wing, HMP Frankland
  • Christopher Carter, Senior Admin Officer, National Probation Service Stockton
  • Checkpoint Team, Durham Constabulary
  • Cleveland Divert Adult Deferred Prosecution Team
  • Lorraine Derbyshire, Stephanie Austin, Liz Arthur – Nepacs Through the Gate Team, HMP Northumberland
  • Yvonne Macellaro, Offender Supervisor, HMP&YOI Low Newton
  • Liberty Team, A Way Out

Helen Attewell, chief executive of Nepacs, said:

“I am delighted that once again we have received nominations from a wide range of organisations, and our award ceremony will showcase and celebrate all the individuals and teams 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. 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.”

For further information on the Nepacs’ Ruth Cranfield awards and previous winners visit