Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice

BRIAN KIRKUP (County Durham YOS)

BRIAN KIRKUP (County Durham YOS)

COMMENDEE 2017-18: Brian is a manager for the County Durham Youth Offending Service, and is Commended for his commitment and skill in delivering a responsive and varied range of opportunities for young people.

Brian Kirkup manages the Delivery Team for the County Durham Youth Offending Service. The team is described by a colleague as “the ‘jewel in our crown’ and a real strength of our service.” His personal commitment to ‘child-centred principles’, creativity, professionalism and a gift for partnerships has led to a huge menu of interesting interventions: feedback from several young offenders suggests Brian’s ethos of encouraging a sense of achievement infuses them all.

Initial nominator Dave Summers, Brian’s line manager, explains some of his qualities:

“Young people are, clearly, the driving motivator for Brian in the work he does. His commitment to them and his unshakable belief that all young people can change their behaviour, if they are given the help they need, is evident throughout all he does. He is someone who believes that listening to the voices of young people with whom we work strengthens and improves the services we offer to young people and the communities in which they live. But he is interested in more than just listening. Brian has shown time and again that he is someone who acts on what he has been told by young people and is constantly changing and/or tweaking the programmes”.

The list of partnerships with agencies is interesting and varied, and sufficiently extensive that it’s led to the creation of an Intervention Directory, covering a range of areas including Alcohol and Substance Misuse, Healthy Relationships, Tackling Offending Behaviour & Violence, Constructive Leisure Activities, Personal Development and Victim Awareness.

The enthusiastic response – and pride in achievement – of one young offender gives a sense of the impact of Brian’s work:

“It’s provided me with loads of opportunity. I’ve done: Prince’s Trust; I’m working with Investing in Children; Street Doctors; RSPCA course; and Respectabull.”

(Respectabull is run with in partnership with the Blue Cross Animal charity, and “encourages a better understanding of the problems and responsibilities of owning a dog.”)

Other partnerships and programmes Brian has helped develop include RSCPA (Paws4Change), Durham Constabulary Armoury (air guns), The Royal British Legion (reparation work involving ‘bling poppies’), Durham Constabulary (car crime), Street Doctors (medical students training young offenders in first aid), as well as working closely with Town and Parish Councils.

Butler Trust Local Champion Gill Eshelby, Strategic Manager, notes that Brian ensured some 4000 hours of court ordered reparation/unpaid work were delivered in the previous year. She praises his “leadership, creativity, commitment and outstanding contribution to youth justice, over many years,” adding that “He is someone who ‘gets things done’; he always delivers. Brian is quietly confident and unassuming. He is both a very safe pair of hands and a creative thinker, always seeing solutions and opportunities rather than a problem.”

Brian himself strongly believes, in his own words, “that if young people can develop a sense of achievement and belonging then they will respond appropriately.”

The sheer diversity on offer in the Interventions Directory, designed to encourage better matching of programmes with an individual offender’s needs and interests, is a testament to a key feature mentioned throughout Brian’s nomination: his willingness not only to listen to young people – but to act in response to what they say.

Brian is also committed to delivering programmes and projects that give young people accreditation for their successful involvement – he has worked closely to this end with the Prince’s Trust XL Network and through the Open Awards scheme.

Looking ahead, Brian wants to see staff continue to be encouraged to be creative and innovative in the way they develop and fine-tune interventions. Meanwhile, the Interventions Directory is an excellent example of doing just that.

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