Lucy works as a prison-based Trainer Assessor in our Yorkshire Team. She trains prisoners under our Peer Advisor Programme. Here she gives an insight into what life is like in her busy role.
“I arrive early to set up. Today should be a good day as I’ve got four really good learners who are very keen.”
We are discussing the importance of building a professional relationship with clients. Once the session gets underway, one of the learners explains how undertaking something like this was completely alien to him at first and it appeared to be something ‘someone like him’ could never do. The others in the group are very supportive, saying he shouldn’t put himself down. It is heartwarming to see them help him to build his confidence up – something he has struggled with recently.
The session finishes with another animated discussion around confidentiality and disclosure. Some of them bring their own personal experiences into the discussion and identify how they had made bad choices in the past.
Time flies by and the end of the session comes about very quickly. The men return to the wing and I catch up on various admin tasks.
Every day is different and there is no such thing as a ‘typical day’. Other days involve things such as observing learners in their work environment, assessing written work, conducting one-to-ones, group workshops or planning the next training session. It’s busy and at times exhausting but ultimately rewarding. It changes lives through not only helping the learners but also the clients they go on to support.
Alison's Story - A day as a custody caseworker
It is early but I like to get to the prison first thing so that I can set up before my clients start to arrive. Prisoner movement is scheduled for 08:30 but today it is delayed because of an incident on one of the wings. This is not unusual and means that I will have less time with the first client. I take the opportunity to chat with the induction staff who update me on what has been happening since my last visit.
He may be 15 minutes late but my first client arrives full of enthusiasm. He tells me about a family visit he had yesterday. We have been working together for a few weeks, so we finish off his CV and prepare a letter to his last employer enquiring about the possibility of him returning to work for them on his release in a couple of months time. Fingers crossed he gets a positive reply, he is really keen to go back and will be very disappointed if his plan doesn’t work out.
My second appointment is waiting. As it is our first meeting, I explain our project and confirm his eligibility. We complete the initial assessment and agree an action plan. He will need support securing accommodation and has debt worries. We arrange to meet up in a week and I complete a referral form to the prison’s housing provider. I will also signpost him to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and we will do some work together on improving his money management skills.
The next client has not arrived so I telephone his wing to try and find out what has happened. He has gone to the gym so I call there and ask for him to be sent over. Annoyingly he never arrives, so I arrange another appointment for next week. Maybe I should set up a satellite desk in the gym as clients often get lost there on way to my appointments!!
The last appointment this morning is a client who is unhappy because he has not heard if his HDC application has been successful. I call his offender supervisor for an update. There has been no decision as she is still waiting for a reply from some community checks. The client is frustrated that it is taking so long but grateful for the update. We discuss how things have been going on his bricklaying course. He would like to progress to a level 2 course on release so we search on line for courses near to his home.
I have now got 2 hours before my afternoon appointments – the prison is locked down so I am unable to meet with any prisoners. I use the time to update my case notes and grab some lunch!
During the afternoon I have to nip to one of the house blocks to see a client who is not allowed off the wing. We have to try and find a quiet corner to discuss his plans for release. He updates me on a meeting he had with the mentor who will be supporting him on release. He is concerned about returning to his old area and the impact of meeting up with his friends. While on the wing an officer tells me about a prisoner who would also like to engage with the project, so I go and see him and arrange an appointment.
On the way back I bump into a long standing client. He is being released tomorrow and has just found out that he has been given a room in a local hostel. This means he will be able to start the work trial I have arranged for him. It is difficult to tell which of us is more excited. Our plan is coming together; all those telephone calls and emails have been worthwhile.
Before I finish I send an email to the allocation team to set up next week’s appointments and I deliver the movement slips on my way out of the prison.
It has been a busy day. Every client has been different. There have been some frustrations but the satisfaction of seeing a plan come together ensures the day has ended on a high. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?