AWARD WINNER 2012-13: Angeline is the Resettlement Team Leader at Bronzefield, where she has worked since 2004. She was nominated by colleagues and offenders for her outstanding work on behalf of the women in the prison and the care, skill and creativity she has brought to her face-to-face work with offenders, and to her role in developing services to meet their needs, including the first prison-based branch of the Women’s Institute which she set up. (This Award is supported by the Wates Foundation).
[The following article appeared in issue 5 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]
An award-winner for outstanding practice in the management and care of female prisoners, Angeline Cross has been Resettlement Team Leader at HMP and YOI Bronzefield for the past two years. In that time she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the women of Bronzefield, her commitment to their welfare approaching the level of a ‘crusade’, according to colleagues. ‘Angeline is someone that inspires people to do their best by the client group and endeavours to assist women as much as she can,’ said throughcare manager Michelle Dean.
Colleagues have praised Angeline for her ability to work well with difficulttoengage clients, drawing on her experience as an outreach worker in the community. Among the initiatives she has introduced to support her clients are food parcels for those being released around Christmas time and establishing the first – and so far, only – Women’s Institute (WI) branch in a women’s prison, an achievement that gained coverage in the national media.
The branch now has more than 60 members – whose ages range from 18 to 70 – and holds regular skills training sessions and meetings with outside speakers. Angeline joined her local WI branch to make sure that the Bronzefield branch would reflect its content and operations as closely as possible, and she has worked hard to forge links with other branches, hosting frequent coffee mornings for visiting members.
‘For my first couple of meetings I sat in the corner, close to Angeline, not moving and hardly talking,’ said one member. Then at a coffee morning, ‘two women asked if they could sit with me and chat and we haven’t stopped talking since,’ she continued. ‘I’ve gone from a scared, nervous woman in company to one able to converse with people in a large group – I’m an active member of the branch.’
Chair of the Surrey Federation of WIs, Elizabeth Fisher, stated that she has ‘nothing but admiration for the time and dedication’ Angeline has given enthusiasm’ to set up their own branches.
Angeline originally joined Bronzefield in 2004, employed by a community agency. After initially providing housing advice and working to make sure women had accommodation lined up on release, she moved on to the role of finance, benefit and debt worker, which, according to colleagues, ‘became the start of Angeline’s crusade for the women of Bronzefield.’
As Resettlement Team Leader she works closely with outside bodies, organising ‘resettlement fairs’ so that women can meet the agencies and see what services are available to them. She has also tirelessly championed the development of peer workers, some of whom have gone on to establish community agencies of their own, and has set up a clothes service with family and friends to make sure that women have access to appropriate clothing for court visits.
Angeline now plans to work with WI members and women prisoners across the country to encourage the establishment of more branches, as well as build up her fundraising activities to expand the Christmas food parcel project.
For more information: contact HMP/YOI Bronzefield