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

EDWIN SIMON (London CRC)

EDWIN SIMON (London CRC)

AWARD WINNER 2017-18: Edwin is a Community Payback Project Supervisor with London CRC. Described as ‘an inspirational role model’ to colleagues and offenders alike, he receives his Award for his unfailing commitment to those in his charge, and for helping make Waltham Forest ‘a safer and better place to live’. [This Award is supported by G4S Care & Justice Services.]

Considered ‘a legend’ by Waltham Forest Police, Edwin ‘Eddie’ Simon has also been called an ‘unsung Superhero’, ‘the go to man’, and an ‘ambassador’ for the decades he has put in as a Community Payback Project Supervisor. He has transformed the lives of the thousands of individuals he has worked with, as well as countless others in the community he has dedicated himself to.

As Claire Farquhar, Operations Manager for London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) explains that, for 28 years, Eddie “has dedicated the majority of his life to helping others to better themselves, not only as a part of his chosen vocation, but as a significant part of his life in general.”

A painter and decorator by trade, “Eddie is driven by the desire to help others to learn, not only new skills, but about themselves.” Eddie has helped thousands of people through their sentence and on to a better life where possible. Claire cites “his passion for care and his never-ending sense of optimism” which makes him “a real ambassador for Community Payback”. She describes him as a ‘go to guy’ for difficult jobs, including work with the gangs unit. She adds that:

“Eddie’s one man contribution to making Waltham Forest a safer and better place to live over a lifetime of service is inspirational, but most striking is Eddie’s deeply humble attitude to these achievements.”

Claire notes that, “at just two years short of sixty, Eddie’s energy and enthusiasm makes him a true role model for those in his care, as well as the rest of us,” calling him “incredibly impactful, deeply humbling, profoundly inspirational, and… a true unsung Superhero.”

As Butler Trust Local Champion Lisa Payne, PA to the Director of Probation, notes, Community Payback Supervisors are “largely operating alone, in often remote places – they are the front line when it comes to community sentencing and the public face of the system.” The role entails being “parent, motivator, mentor, teacher and disciplinarian, bringing a degree of order into some exceptionally chaotic lives.” In London, a dedicated team delivers over one million hours of Unpaid Work annually, says Lisa, and “Eddie is one of the bright stars in this firmament.”

Eddie is an ‘incredibly popular and highly thought of mentor”, and service users agree. One calls him “a really great supervisor… He has a great sense of humour.” Another service user reports that, “with Eddie’s guidance, I have been able to learn that lessons are learnt with hard work. [He is] one of the most sincere and genuine supervisors…a wonderful human being.”

Metropolitan Police Sergeant Mike Halpin says, “The impact this had on individual lives has been huge…Waltham Forest are lucky to have him.” Mike says he asks his own officers “to look and see how Eddie interacts and recreate the passion he shows.”

Rudy L’Aimable, Premises Manager at the local Gearies Primary School in Gants Hill, describes the benefits that Eddie has brought to the school in a charming way:

“I always get pupils saying ‘Mr Rudy, how did you manage to paint the corridors, fix our bike sheds, clean our playgrounds during the weekends?’ My response is always, ‘I have a team of people helping the community managed by Mr Eddie, almost like secret elves, heard but never seen.’”

Helga Swidenbank, Director of Probation for London CRC, is also unstinting in her praise:

“If ever there was an individual whose contribution to improving the lives and safety of his community made him a giant in stature it is Eddie. In terms of sheer impact, across the majority of his adult life, Eddie has dedicated himself to quietly making a difference…in the parks, open spaces, sports grounds and estates of his home communities, he has impacted the lives of literally thousands of Service Users, as well as the families and communities that benefit from his work. Eddie is a true inspiration to us all and I am both proud of, and humbled by, his life long contribution.”

Eddie’s approach, he says, “is to treat everyone equally, and as an individual. Who am I to judge someone on their past?” He adds, “It really warms my heart when they start turning up early at a project ‘to get the best spot’ because they’re enjoying what they’re doing.” Eddie recalls a troublesome prolific offender, who he had worked with before, and who specifically asked to be transferred to him. “He ended up coming to site three days a week despite only being obliged to come once.”

Drawing on his deep experience, Eddie has a thoughtful idea for extending the rehabilitative impact of Community Payback: “It touches me to see how proud many people are when they learn a new skill from their Community Payback. Some are quite skilful by the end of their Orders, and it’s a shame they don’t get anything to recognise it. I’d like to see the hours they spend learning DIY or gardening skills, for example, count towards some sort of certificate or qualification.”

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