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

HAYLEY MORRIS (HMP & YOI Parc)

HAYLEY MORRIS (HMP & YOI Parc)

Hayley Morris

AWARD WINNER 2018-19: Hayley works at HMP Parc as a Family Interventions Manager. She wins an Award for developing and driving a wide range of initiatives to support prisoner-family relationships, leading to Parc becoming the first prison to achieve ‘Investors in Families’ accreditation.
[This Award is supported by Ingeus.]

This report is rather longer than some, in part because the testimonials by prisoners and families are so vivid and affecting, and in part because several of the projects Hayley and her team at Parc have pioneered are worth highlighting. We start with a lengthy verbatim extract from a hand-written letter submitted by Initial Nominator and prisoner ‘Mark’*:

‘I would like to nominate Hayley Morris because of all the things she has done for me that has enabled me to turn my life around completely, let me tell you! I am only 26 but I have been coming in and out of jail since I was 15 for a load of different crimes… In between sentences I have fathered 2 children and realising that I am not there for them has hurt me deeply… It was during a family visit that I started to talk to Hayley Morris. She was really friendly and came and spoke to my mum for ages. From that day on Hayley has always been there for me. She came to see me regularly and I told her my whole story, things I had never told anyone before, she always listened without judging and encouraged me to make changes in my life. Little easy things that were effective. I started to get baby visits, did parenting programmes and soon was on the family unit where I learnt so much on how to turn my life around and how to be a good dad. Hayley has supported me through so much anguish and soul searching! Believe me we went to some very dark places. She has made me believe in myself again and shown me I still have lots to give and even encouraged me to speak publicly about my story at a PAPAS event in the prison! I never thought I would have the guts to do it. It was a fantastic feeling. I feel so different because of what she has done for me, because she made me realise that I am more than just a criminal. She has made me realise that CHANGE can only happen if you work at it. I owe her a huge thanks. She has given my kids their DAD back.’

Trust Local Champion, Community Engagement Manager and 2015-16 Butler Trust winner Phil Forder picks up Mark’s story:

‘I first heard ‘Mark’ speak at a PAPAS event (Parc Assisting Prisoners Against Self-harming) recently where he spoke about his chaotic, drug fuelled, self-harming lifestyle. It was very emotional and very sad to hear this young man speak in front of a large audience at HMP Parc about his tragic life.

Throughout the presentation, the name Hayley Morris was heard over and over again as being pivotal in turning his life around. At the end of his talk, Mark’s mother got up and walked over to Hayley and hugged her in front of everyone. There could be no more fitting testament to the work that she does. I am so glad Mark put in this nomination.’

Phil describes receiving ‘countless reports from prisoners, staff and prisoner’s families of the incredible work Hayley carries out on a daily basis. She is sincere, approachable and incredibly effective in engaging with some of the most hard-to-reach prisoners we work with.’ He quotes another prisoner, ‘Duncan’, who wrote ‘to thank Hayley Morris for all the advice, care and support she has given me when I was going through one of the lowest points in my life. Having recently lost contact with my family I was devastated at first and was at the point of doing something very silly. Hayley knew I wasn’t coping well so ensured she visited me on a daily basis. Her visits were the only light in the day. I hate to think how it could have ended up had she not been there for me. I owe her so much.’

‘Nichola’, a prisoner’s wife, wrote that her family ‘were very fortunate to benefit from knowing her through a very difficult time in our lives’. Meanwhile ‘Michael’, another prisoner, recalls doing a family-based substance misuse programme:

‘The only reason we were able to do this course was because Hayley used to drive 30 miles each way to pick my children and partner up each week. My youngest child was going through lots of difficulties, to the point where she was self-harming. Straight away Hayley struck up a good relationship with her and every lesson she would sit next to Hayley and not leave her side… she felt safe. Hayley was brilliant with all the children and she even made me open my eyes to what I was putting my family through with my constant drug use…Without people like Hayley, lots of prisoners would just carry on doing what they’ve always done, sticking their heads in the sand and not wake up to their responsibilities. I am truly grateful.’

Phil says Hayley has been ‘instrumental in changing so many people’s lives and offering them support and hope’ and calls her ‘a one-woman intervention with a huge heart. If Hayley can help then she will.’ He notes there are dozens of examples ‘which reflect her extraordinary commitment and zeal’ – some are outlined below – and says Hayley’s natural empathy, especially towards prisoner’s families, ‘is ever present. Many a time I see her surrounded by hordes of prisoner’s children in the Visits Hall all wishing to hold her hand, all calling out her name. Similarly, on the wings she is rarely alone.’ Phil concludes by saying,

‘Hayley spreads hope through her work and personality to countless prisoners, their children and families… and even the staff who become involved in her interventions.’

‘Genny’, the mother of ‘Lisa’ who took part in one initiative, The Duke of Edinburgh Leadership programme, wrote:

‘Hayley was the driving force behind keeping her motivated. She came to our house in Cardiff each week and collected and brought her home afterwards. She kept my daughter’s interest alive and supported her with such enthusiasm and care… She has shown us compassion without judgement and nothing has ever been too much trouble for her. She has always been there with a smile and a listening ear. I truly feel that throughout the whole of my partner’s prison sentence, Hayley was there for us… I truly thank Hayley from the bottom of my heart for pulling my family together and helping us achieve things I never thought possible.’

Hayley’s colleague, Samantha Bolger-Davies, a Family Interventions Co-ordinator at Parc, wrote that ‘if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Hayley you will realise she has a real presence. She is someone you want on your team, someone who is always supportive and someone who fights for what she believes in for those who often are vulnerable and often feel they do not have a voice.’

Another partner of a prisoner wrote that ‘Hayley made such a difference to our lives’ in a number of areas, and notes that ‘two years on and my youngest daughter still speaks about Hayley, that’s how much a difference she makes to people’s lives. She never judged us but tried to encourage us to better ourselves. Hayley can connect to children of all ages, both my daughters had a lovely bond with her and I want to say thank you for the help and support she showed us.’

Parc’s Director, Janet Wallsgrove, calls Hayley ‘a truly inspirational person’ with ‘an enthusiasm for helping people which is incredible to observe’, and describes a charming example: ‘The joy of watching new fathers bathe their babies under Hayley’s watchful eye is one of the highlights of what Parc has to offer.’ Janet concludes that ‘Hayley embodies what all staff should hope to deliver – care, respect, decency with some tough love when it is needed. She is respected by the men, their families and especially the children.’

Hayley herself details some of the interventions she has driven forward:

PAPAS (Parc Assisting Prisoners Against Self-Harm) events (as mentioned by ‘Mark’ and Phil Forder above): ‘This brings in families and Mental Health organisations to support prisoners inside the walls but also the families outside.’ Hayley hopes these events will continue in Parc ‘for years to come. We even did an Iron Man competition where we had mixed teams of staff and prisoners which ran in conjunction with Suicide Prevention Week.’

Parc’s Duke of Edinburgh Leadership Programme: ‘The only programme of this nature run in the UK. It is a seven-month programme where fathers mentor their children through the different sections of the Bronze award. The fathers gain a DofE leadership qualification while their children gain a DofE Bronze award.’

Scouts: ‘An 8 week programme where children between 5 -11 years can come into prison and experience a Beaver session with other children in the same position as them. They can enjoy scouting activities like other children in the community… The children of prisoners even raised money in their local schools for orphans in Uganda whose parents are on death row to set up a Scout group of their own. We also share resources to help with their set up.’

Family Firefighter for a Day, in collaboration with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service: ‘A full day experience where fathers and their children can experience elements of the training a trainee firefighter would experience in the community. Some of the elements cover home safety, team building, problem solving and basic firefighting skills.’

Investors in Families Chartermark: ‘We are the only prison in the UK to receive this prestigious award… We were very fortunate to be presented this award by the Prisons Minister in the House of Lords.’

Hayley is proud of the ‘wonderful work with prisoners and their families’ they do, but adds ‘I could not do this work alone… I have a fabulous passionate team behind me, which keep developing year by year to create fantastic relevant effective interventions.’

Finally, Hayley also helped Channel 4 News make a short film about Parc’s pioneering work in this area, which can be watched here:

* Names of prisoners and their relatives have been anonymised.

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