Where do you work?

HMP Gartree

Describe your Pact journey so far?

My journey with Pact has been challenging, informative, valuable and made me grow and develop, both in this role and as a person.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

No two days are the same in this role. Sometimes a family can be extremely sad when they visit, and I therefore have to offer emotional support to them. Sometimes visitors are angry because of the situation they are in and as we are front line staff, we are at hand to support them. Again, the ability to both sympathise and empathise with these families is incredibly important, and much of my time is spent with these families, offering this much needed support.

A good relationship with the prison is vital. We have an excellent relationship with the staff here at Gartree, and we work together as a unit and a good team. We both have our main aim, which is to ensure our visitors feel welcome, supported and as relaxed as they can possibly be.

Many issues happen each visit day, which have to be dealt with, for example, it may be that a visitor has not brought the correct ID and has been refused entry,  or it could be they are anxious about visiting a prison environment and need some guidance as to what will be expected of them on a visit. A visitor may want some practical advice as to what they can claim back travel expenses, if eligible.

In my role, I have to also ensure our tea bar (based inside the visits hall in the prison) is fully staffed, fully stocked (with an order completed each week from our chosen supplier) and processes and procedures are being followed, such as stock rotation being done correctly.

Pact also has a play area within the visits hall. This is a place where our visiting children can spend some time within a secure and safe area, led by our Play Leader. This gives visiting adults some valuable time with their loved ones, safe in the knowledge that their child is being occupied within a safe environment. My role is to ensure this area is staffed during every visit and to supervise and support the Play Leader to provide engaging activities and ensure the children are safe. .

What have you got from working at Pact?

Working for Pact and especially in this role, I have learnt to manage people and understand and respect the differences between managing paid staff and volunteers. Having previously been a secretary, I was given the chance for a management position by my current Pact line manager, and on a personal level, I have grown and developed. Through the development and support of Pact, I now feel I can manage people well and have learnt the importance of developing key relationships both with the visitors and the prison.  I have found that I have been able to use and develop my listening skills and the training I have had in valuing diversity. 

What is the best thing about working at Pact?

I love working for an organisation that treats it's staff with respect and values every worker. I really feel valued by Pact and feel incredibly supported and encouraged in my role and in my development. Because of this, I work hard and want to give my all. I walk out of work at the end of each day, feeling challenged, valued, respected and worthy of being in this role. I also feel, because I was given such an amazing opportunity that I want to meet the expectations of Pact and my line manager. I am passionate about the values of Pact and support and embrace them. I love my job and have realised my best strength is my ability to communicate and support others both emotionally and practically because I care so much about our service users.

What are you most proud of achieving at Pact?

I am proud of being a manager that is respected by her staff and volunteers. I am proud that, we as a team, won the "Being a Place of Welcome Award" by Pact for our visits centre. I am also proud that the relationship between us (Pact) and prison has gone from strength to strength from where it was 3 years ago. I am proud that I have learned new skills and continue to develop professionally within my role. However I am mostly proud of my team and the bond we have and how we support each other.