Looking Forward to 2018

Dear Pact People,

I’ve had a bunch of emails through in the last few days, including Christmas Greetings from companies wanting to sell me things I don’t need. Usually, I don’t even know what it is they are selling! They’re usually very breezy and talk to me like they’re my best friend in the whole world. They say things like:

‘Hi Andy, Its Jane here from Optimum Resourcing. I bet you’re winding down now for the festive season?’

They obviously don’t know Pact! Winding down?!?

It’s only a few weeks since I sent out my last briefing, but so much has happened since then that I thought I would put out another one (and I won’t even talk my serious man-flu!)

So, here goes…


Welcome to new staff

It has been a real pleasure over the past few weeks to meet so many of our new staff who have attended our Foundation Days in London and Birmingham. I’ve been greatly impressed by the positive attitudes, skills, and real commitment to our values and work. You are all very welcome and I think we can look forward to 2018 with a real sense of purpose and optimism.

If you haven’t yet been able to attend a Foundation Day, please do make sure to let Peter Snashall know. We expect to be running one in February.



I’m aware that we will be saying goodbye to some wonderful staff following the re-organisation of the some of the Family Services. As I may not get the opportunity to thank each of you personally, I would just like to say thank you now for your personal service to prisoners, and their children and families. I know that you have worked with great commitment and dedication, and you may not always have been given the thanks that your work deserves. Every act of respect and kindness you have shown – every sound piece of advice or information shared – has made a difference. In truth, you will never know the scale of what difference you have made, often in small ways – to the lives of individuals and families who have been struggling. So on their behalf, and on behalf of Pact’s Board of Trustees and Senior Team, I’m thanking you now for all that you have done. We wish you all the very best for the future. And do remember, there are quite a few people who have left us for a while, only to return in a different role later on, so do keep in touch with what’s going on. It’s a small world.


Prisoners’ Children Receive Hundreds of Presents thanks to Pact Staff going the extra mile!

Thanks to some amazing teamwork from Supporter Relations Team, and Services staff, hundreds of prisoners’ children will be receiving Christmas presents that their dad or mum could otherwise not afford. Naomi Farrell, who looks after our relationships with parishes up and down the country, has played a key role in co-ordinating links with churches, but many of our staff and projects do this every year, of have built new relationships in the run up to this Christmas. We’ve been very well supported by a number of Catholic Dioceses, including Caritas Westminster, which is the social justice agency set up by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, with something like 600 presents being donated. At HMP Send, our team has well established links with the local church groups of all denominations. At Belmarsh, a prison officer has been bringing in gifts for the children donated by his mum’s church. Stephanie Stevenson, our Director of HR, has been out and about raising awareness and bringing in gifts from friends in the Methodist community, and Tina Parker braved the storms to drive across Devon to speak to churchgoers on a rare ‘day off’ and they are now going to support the families at Eastwood Park.

It’s been really heartening to see how much our staff care, and how, when we get out there and ask, church communities respond with warmth and generosity. Thank you, to all the staff, who have gone extra mile. Seeing central office turn into Santa’s Grotto once a year is absolutely brilliant!

If you’ve not yet built links with local parishes, do get in touch with Naomi. She’ll be only too glad to offer support and guidance.


Good News

There is always far too much going on in Pact to share all of the achievements and good news going round, but here are just a few things that have crossed my desk…


New Volunteering Hub and Recruitment Campaigns a Success!

Thanks to the excellent work of Lizzie Trueblood, our Volunteer Co-ordinators, Services colleagues and support staff, we are recruiting record numbers of volunteers across England and Wales.


New Volunteering Flyer

A new mini flyer has been produced and is being dispatched to our Volunteer Co-ordinators and other key staff. Let them know if you would like some. They’re a very cheap and cheerful way of spreading awareness about out work, and are particularly useful in recruiting people who might spend less time online, but who might still have plenty of time on their hands to support families in visitors centres.


Highdown Here We Come

I’m delighted to let you all know that our bid to provide the family services at HMP Highdown has won. Highdown is on the same plot of land as Downview prison, where we have also won the tender. To find out more about the prison, you can follow this link: http://www.justice.gov.uk/contacts/prison-finder/high-down Great news for our SE Team. The bid for HMP Rochester went to Spurgeons, and we are still awaiting the outcome of the bid for HMP Long Lartin.


More Support for Prisoners’ Families Coming Soon in North Wales

We have also had the fantastic news of a new grant from the Albert Gubay Trust. This charitable foundation will be funding new work to develop volunteering in North Wales to support prisoners’ families in the courts and in the community, linked to our services at HMP Berwyn prison in Wrexham. It’s the first funding we have secured to develop community-based work for prisoners’ families on the London model outside the capital. Congratulations to Bridget Moss from our Supporter Relations Team and Pact Cymru.


New Head of Services for London Appointed

We have appointed our new Head of Service Delivery & Development for Greater London. Her name is Kelly Pain and she joins us at the end of January. Kelly has experience of managing prison-based drugs, mental health and resettlement-focused services, and community-based services involving relationships with police and the courts. We look forward to welcoming Kelly to the team.


CFO Team goes from strength to strength

Great work from the CFO team which we heard about at the Pact December Board meeting which was held in Birmingham. Well done to Tina Pritchard and all the staff. Always great to hear that we are hitting vital performance targets and exceeding them in some cases, but what is always compelling for the senior team and trustees is to hear the real life cases of people for whom Pact staff are making a very real difference, including some extremely vulnerable prisoners.


Yet another academic evaluation shows our impact

A brilliant event was held in Cardiff at which we heard the independent evaluation of the Supporting Young Parents in Prison programme. Yet another robust, independent evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of Pact’s work. Amazing work yet again from our team in South Wales. Always sad when funding comes to an end, but we did win the Family Services contracts for all public sector prisons in Wales, and much of the innovative work we developed through the grant funding has now been firmly embedded in our practice. (It’s all here folks: https://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/research ).


‘Locked Out’: Fantastic New Resource for Prisoners’ Children

Jo Mulcahy, Head of Services for Pact Cymru and SW, has produced an amazing new resource for prisoners’ children, parents, and professionals who work with them. It’s a book called ‘Locked Out.’ We’re now working with Tim Powell, our favoured designer and animator, to develop an online version. Thanks to Big Lottery funding, we will be printing copies for every Pact member of staff and volunteers, and supplying prisons and other organisations with this unique resource.



Date of the Diary: February 22nd at the Pact Centre at HMP Wormwood Scrubs

We had a Wales launch of ‘Locked Out’ at the Cardiff event, but it’s so good that we now also plan to launch it in London, in our Visitors Centre at HMP Wormwood Scrubs, on the evening of February 22nd. The Scrubs Centre is a very special building, which I and a number of colleagues spent 5 years developing in collaboration with the Tudor Trust, who funded the building to the tune of £1.3M. Within a week of opening, we lost the contract to deliver the family services in London to Spurgeons. Five years’ later, we’re back, and so this event is also a chance to re-launch the centre, and to share some of the great work we have been doing with and for children and young people in 2017. It will be an early evening event, from 5.30pm.


Old Bailey Event on March 22

Did you know that Pact works in the Old Bailey, which must be the most famous court building in the world? The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, known as the Old Bailey from the street on which it stands, is the court which hears the most serious cases. The court was built on the site of the medieval Newgate Gaol, a notorious prison. Lanis Levy, who works with Dali Kaur as part of the London Gateway Services team, is hard at work recruiting, vetting and train volunteers, and placing them in the courts across London, where they will ensure we meet and offer support to defendants’ and newly convicted and sentenced prisoners. One of the courts is the Old Bailey, and we’re delighted to report that the top judge at the Bailey, His Hon. Nicholas Hilliard QC, is supporting this work. On 22 March, we will be holding a special reception for Pact volunteers in London at the Old Bailey, to thank them for their work, and to raise awareness in the courts of what Pact does.


Pact on Channel 5

Over the past couple of weeks we have been working with Channel 5 on a story about prisoners’ children and families, and the difficulties they face being separated from their loved ones at Christmas - but also the difficulties they face every day of the year and what work we are doing to support them.

On 15th December, an interview was aired with a young lady called Kyra, who you may recognise from our previous appearance on BBC Breakfast and from the animation on our website – ‘Kyra’s story.’ We also heard from Kyra’s mum who has been supported by our London Community Services team, and from me.

We have shared the story on Pact’s social media on Twitter and Facebook. Please do ‘like’ and ‘share’ with your networks! Friends and family will love to see the charity you work for on the telly!

And if you haven’t yet had a look around our children and young people’s section of the website, do take a look and you’ll find lots of useful resources for children, parents/carers and professionals, as well as our animations.


Central Office & Helpline

Just to remind everyone that we will be closing the London Central Office, and the Pact Helpline, during the week commencing on Christmas Day.


On-Call over Christmas

Safeguarding & Designated Officer Cover

Should you have a safeguarding issue over Christmas, and not be able to contact your line manager, then the on-duty Designated officer should be contacted. Laura Cartledge is on the rota over Christmas (Thank you Laura!).

If necessary Laura will escalate to one of the SLT who are on call (rota below).


For services in London, a Family Engagement Manager is on duty for Xmas weekends as follows:

Val Dwamena                      23rd and 24th Dec

Lorraine Lewis                     30th and 31st Dec


SLT Cover

Should there be an emergency, or significant safeguarding concern which you feel you need to escalate, and you are unable to contact any of the above, Tina Parker, Ellen Green and I will be on call, on the following rota:

Andy Keen-Downs              27th December                           07841 289 340           

Ellen Green                        28th December                           07880 199 544           

Tina Parker                        29th December                   07702 517 482           

Andy Keen-Downs              30-31st December                     07841 289 340


Hopefully, it will be a quiet period!


Thank you all again for your tremendous work in 2017. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas, and looking forward to a great year ahead for Pact in 2018!

Warmest Wishes,

Andy Keen-Downs