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



AWARD WINNER 2017-18: Mark is an instructor at HMP/YOI Parc. Nominated by a prisoner, he receives an Award for his work in developing a high quality printing service, which serves clients across Wales and beyond, while providing skills, qualifications and employment opportunities to the prisoners in his charge. [This Award is supported by Novus.]

Mark Brayshaw built a print shop from scratch in a portacabin at HMP/YOI Parc, transforming it into a hugely successful enterprise – turning over some £120,000 a year – with an enviable client list across Wales and beyond. More importantly, the high professional standards Parc Signshop sets equips men with transferrable training and experience – so much so that several former offenders are now running their own print businesses.

[Summary of original nomination and supporting materials submitted to the Trust]

A striking letter from one offender, Martin*, speaks eloquently, in some ways, to all those who do unsung but sterling work in prisons:

“I know this is rather unorthodox but over the years I have read so much bad press about the prison system and staff, but what people fail to report on is the amount of positives that arise from a well-run prison establishment like Parc. During my time here I have witnessed first hand the amount of effort, commitment and dedication the staff put into their jobs on a daily basis, but sadly the appreciation isn’t given by the full prison population or those looking on from outside the walls.”

Turning to Mark, Martin goes on to say: “From day one he has made me feel welcome, safe, settled, and treated me like an employee, not a prisoner. Over the past few years he has not only been my instructor, but he has been there to support me through my lowest ebbs, and gone above and beyond his role as an instructor to help me become the person I am today. He has given me the belief to be successful in life and given me new hope and a
career path for the future, which did not exist four years ago. He is an exceptional individual and an officer that epitomises the meaning of ‘Duty of Care’. I cannot thank him enough for what he has given me – something to look forward to in life, just by giving me an opportunity to try a new skill and believing in me to succeed.”

Parc’s Governor, Janet Wallsgrove, says Mark “has worked tirelessly”, and notes that while there are many successful workshops at the prison, “what is impressive about this one is that several prisoners have gone on to get work in printing companies as well as setting up their own business.”

Mark was initially nominated by another prisoner who called working in Parc Signshop “a complete eye opener as to what I can achieve.” He goes on, “Mark puts masses of energy, enthusiasm and patience into his work and yet always includes us in decision making, asking for our feedback as well as giving us responsibility for Quality Control. It’s a real sense of accomplishment that I will take with me when I leave here.. He is an exceptional person who brings out the best in those who have lost everything and offers something that is beyond measure – hope.”

Phil Forder, Communities Engagement Manager, says the Parc Signshop is “probably the most competitive printing business in all of Wales,” and notes that several alumni have gone on to run their own businesses, including Sean* in Ireland, who “keeps in touch with Mark regularly, asking for advice and guidance.” Sean says:

“I spent a total of six years in various prisons but it wasn’t until I came in to Parc and Mark’s workshop that I became inspired and could realise my true potential as a graphic designer with practical printing skills. Mark is a first class teacher, I cannot praise him enough – he is the best boss I have ever had in my life…Mark will help anyone and yet he still has two feet on the ground. He has created real work, with real customers that gives you real experience.”

Customers are effusive, too, with one, Sharon Rowse, saying “the work is second to none…I would recommend them to anyone,” and Emily Powell adding, “Mark will always bend over backwards to get things done for us. We cannot praise him enough. Also we believe that by using this service we also are helping prisoners rehabilitate. This we think is important.”

Mark’s own credo is clear: “I always tell them ‘I want you, while you are here, to forget you are in prison and see this as coming to work – for that is what it is. You are coming to work and learn.’” He goes on to say, “I believe very much that the most effective way to manage prisoners or anybody else for that matter is to treat them with respect. I try to treat people in the same way as I would expect to be treated myself. I treat the men I work with as people not offenders. This is reflected in the way the workshop is run.”

* Name changed

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