Making a Difference - Signing Up to the Prison Service

Making a Difference - Signing Up to the Prison Service

In a world where heroes are typically seen in grand, extravagant scenes, we shift our attention to a less explored yet resilient place: the prison system.

In this captivating interview, an assistant director reflects on his unlikely journey from uncertainty to resilience. Get inspired by the compassion, dedication, and extraordinary work of those who often go unnoticed, but whose impact is felt deeply within the community they serve.

After a series of ‘sliding doors’ moments, signing up to HM Prison Service was presented as an option. Now, as an assistant director, he reflects on his career path and the crucial factors involved in its success.

Did I think I would be good at it? No, not really. Did I think I’d be tough enough? No, not really.

I was ‘from the sticks’ and had never even met a criminal in my life but found myself surrounded by a loving group of colleagues who gave me the confidence to be both more authoritarian yet compassionate in this completely new area of work.

He started his career on the toughest wing and is grateful for that. It proved to be the best test of all, dealing with the toughest scenarios, to quickly learn the necessary tools needed.

It’s just about being reasonable with people – the most vulnerable, those in significant crisis, the plain difficult, the plain violent – and adapting how your personality works with the many situations you will encounter. You draw on previous experience of what works, what doesn’t, being empathetic yet drawing a line.

Prison is a community – it’s real life magnified.

Being reasonable with people tends to bring respect. If you’ve got respectful relationships, it works.

In all the roles he has performed to date, he acknowledges that it’s all about everyone pulling together.

You have a massively diverse population of prisoners with massively diverse backgrounds, a massively diverse staff group offering significantly different skills. You are afforded all the training in the world to put you in a position to do this job and, through it all, to ‘go again’.

Leading up to this moment, my career has journeyed from Gatekeeper to Prison Officer, from running segregation blocks to Operations Manager with many other aspects interwoven. The most important factor is that we are all pulling together.

Those who protect and care for our nation often do so making great personal sacrifice and when signing up to the Prison Service, this is very much the case.

Do you contemplate being stood at work at 1 in the morning when you should have finished at 8? Probably not. You are buying into a way of life – you do your very best by situations and see them through to the end. There’s never any question about that.

There is no doubt about the impact on your personal life. You may not get back for bedtime, you have Christmases at work, but you will get a ridiculous amount of support in doing that. You know this will happen, and it is greatly softened by your secondary family around you.

In every avenue of life, communication is key and a support network is a vital part of being able to thrive.

There is no way you will get by in the Prison Service without knowing people have got your back. Your relationship with others is key – the knowledge that people have got your back and you’ve got their back.

It’s sometimes forgotten that behind the uniform is a person and experiences change that person.

I’m proud to be able to say that situations experienced in the jail has changed me hugely for the better. The skillset I have acquired has equipped me to be in a far better position with life outside those 4 walls. Whether it’s with a family member in crisis, or in general conversation, I’ve been afforded lots of opportunities by HMPS to better myself and I’ve used all these in my life.

The Butler Trust coined the title ‘Hidden Heroes’ to describe those serving doing extraordinary work unseen to the public eye within those 4 walls.

Every day, I will see somebody doing something heroic.

There are complex prisoners who are offered after care by staff going above and beyond to ensure everything is in the right place to give those prisoners the best opportunities going forward.

There are officers facing volatile situations with no regard for their own safety and saving lives. 

There are situations where prisoners are particularly poorly for several reasons when officers administer what is ‘more than first aid’ to save lives. 

 Officers managing prisoners in crisis with considerable risk to themselves. 

I witness prisoners leaving in a far better position than when they came because our Hidden Heroes have put in the hard graft. 

There are many Hidden Heroes - we are grateful to the Butler Trust for highlighting this on our behalf. 

Along with all things negative about prison life, there are hundreds of ‘good news’ stories. Being a strong advocate of initiatives that really work involves a passion for making a difference. 

We are innovative in our approach to making a difference. Initiatives that work well include opportunities for prisoners to get involved in sport, educational programmes, upskilling and involving families to help engagement with the prisoners’ personal targets.

As well as being pro-active, we are re-active with many departments liaising to make that difference – managers, psychologists, healthcare professionals, chaplaincy – all ready to pull together for the better good.

People in the toughest jobs often say their job is the best job in the world. Words of advice to anybody contemplating entering the service are invaluable. 

A job in the Prison Service is the best job in the world with enormous job satisfaction BUT you must be resilient to achieve that.

Stories of officers being good at it at the click of the fingers are few and far between. You must stick at it, know who you can lean on, all working towards the same goal. 

You may have had difficult people around you all day, cell fights, cases of self-harm. Your system to leave work at work so that home is home is important. 

Your rock, your support away from the prison is vital – someone to put an arm around you, throw you a smile, care about you. 

You may well question if it’s the right job for you to begin with but, if you embrace what it’s about, you can do it.

You can make a difference. Motorfinity wishes to thank our interviewee for sparing his precious time to share such honest and positive reflections about the Prison Service.

You may well question if it’s the right job for you to begin with but, if you embrace what it’s about, you can do it.

You can make a difference.  Motorfinity wishes to thank our interviewee for sparing his precious time to share such honest and positive reflections about the Prison Service.

To all our anonymous Hidden Heroes, thank you for your dedication, resilience, and extraordinary service.

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