Hundreds of nominations for the 35th Annual Butler Trust Awards have now arrived (with the usual deadline rush!). As always, they shine a light on the impressive work everyone in the sector knows about – but which the wider public rarely gets to see.
This year the Trust is pleased to see some wider and long overdue recognition of the amazing stuff people bring to their work every day in the sector. For instance, Channel 4’s award winning documentary series Prison showed prison officers at HMP Durham doing their best in a range of tough circumstances. We reported some of the public’s heartfelt and positive responses to the show in our new booklet #HiddenHeroes: The Prison Officer (now being distributed to all uniformed officers). We’ve also highlighted the impact of probation in our #HiddenHeroes: The Probation Officer video.
In another year of negative headlines and ongoing change in the sector, we stuck to our guns and kept our focus on the core truth we see every year in the Award nomination papers: the huge amount of remarkable work happening in criminal justice. It should get much more credit than it does and, to that end, our Director Simon Shepherd has now visited all 102 closed adult prisons in England & Wales for The Good Book of Prisons project.
As Simon explains: “From over three decades in the field, and from seeing thousands of Award nominations, I knew there was a lot of good stuff happening across the estate. By going out there, and speaking to thousands of prisoners, staff, and managers, I’ve now got a whole book of evidence to underline that fact.”
And, as we see every year, the nominations are simply chockful of wonderful things – many in the words of offenders and service users who have chosen to nominate someone. Even a random sample from just a dozen nominations gives a distinct flavour of the impact on people’s lives:
“A beautiful human being”
“She always helps”
“He gave me another way of looking at things that will stay with me through my life”
“One in a million”
“Always takes the time”
“A great inspiration”
“She’s changed my attitude to HMP staff and life in general”
“He’s friendly, professional, honest, and approachable”
“A truly remarkable woman”
“A big man with a big heart”
All too often our Winners say things like “I’m only doing my job” – but what a job, and what a difference it makes to so many lives!
Do please follow our progress on Twitter this summer as we sift through and shortlist the nominations – in-between running another ground-breaking Prison Officers’ Summer Symposium at Oxford University in August.
Meanwhile, thank you to everyone involved in putting together nominations this year, and we wish all of you a happy – much deserved – holiday, too.