Prisons are rarely the topic of good news stories, and at Pact, we regularly provide a platform for the people we serve to speak out on what needs to change.

But as a charity which works in prisons , we see day in day out, the heroic efforts of so many individuals to support people to cope with a prison sentence, and to work towards a better life after release. Some of these ‘hidden heroes’ wear HM Prison Service uniforms. Some are chaplains. Some work for charities, education providers, healthcare, or in support functions.  Some are unpaid volunteers. And of course, some of these heroic and hard-working individuals are prisoners, who support other men and women as ‘peer support’ volunteers.

This year, for the first time, in association with the High Sheriff of Greater London and HM Prison Service Greater London, Pact has created and launched an awards scheme to recognise and celebrate just a few of these people who go ‘above and beyond’ to make a difference.

We are honoured that the current High Sheriff of Greater London, Mrs Lynn Cooper, has adopted Pact as one of her charities for her year of office. Together, with Ian Bickers, the Prisons Group Director for London, we came up with the plan to run a series of awards events inside some of London’s best known prisons.


What is a High Sheriff?

The High Sheriff is one of the oldest Royal appointments, going back to Saxon England, before  the Norman conquest, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ (which became the word Sheriff), was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown.  The modern day High Sheriff has a very different role and function to that of his or her ancient ancestors, but none the less plays an important role in supporting Her Majesty the Queen and the Judiciary in a ceremonial capacity within the criminal justice sector.

For more information see:

https://highsheriffs.com/about/what-is-a-high-sheriff/

https://highsheriffs.com/Greater-London/


Our first awards ceremony took place in the chapel in HMP Pentonville in North London on 6th October. We are grateful to HMP Pentonville and the Ministry of Justice for allowing us to share some of the photographs from this private event, taken by highly acclaimed prison photographer Andy Aitchison.

Earlier this month, the High Sheriff of Greater London Mrs Lynn Cooper toured HMP Pentonville, London, with Pact CEO Andy Keen-Downs and Governor Ian Blakeman, awarding a number of prestigious High Sheriff Awards to staff, volunteers and prisoners.

Winner of the Inclusivity Award: Sharon Ellis

Sharon demonstrated an outstanding commitment creating an environment of inclusion, understanding and respect amongst prisoners, especially during Black History month.

Winner of the Routes2Change Award: Ash Culley

Ash was presented the award to recognise her support for prisoners to develop and maintain healthy relationships, including family bonds.

Winner of the Partnership Award: Lindsay Warner

Lindsay was presented the award for leading the way in excellent collaborative working and demonstrating a ‘one team’ approach, she has brought structure and accountability to the safer custody department, winning over staff and managers.

Winner of the Hidden Hero Award: Margaret Ojera

Margaret has been awarded the Hidden Hero Award for the differences she made while running the kitchen dining the pandemic and keeping the show on the road.

Prisoners' Awards

Two further awards were presented to prisoners at HMP Pentonville: the Personal Development Award to recognise willpower, determination and personal courage to change, to develop, and to grow, and the Peer Support Award, recognising the care and professionalism taken towards supporting other men in Pentonville who are struggling to cope with a sentence.

The next awards events will take place later this year and early 2022.


Pact at HMP Pentonville

Pact is proud to work at HMP Pentonville to provide support to the families of the men held in custody.  We manage the Family Visitors Centre, a small building just outside the prison, the ‘Family Tree Café’ in the prison visits hall, and provide information, advice and support and a range of family and relationship education support services.   If you have a family member of a prisoner in HMP Pentonville, you can find out more here: prisonadvice.org.uk/hmp-pentonville 

HMP Pentonville Awards - Event Gallery

High Sheriff of Greater London Awards HMP Pentonville

photography by Andy Aitchison