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



Mark Coleman

AWARD WINNER 2018-19: Mark is a Prison Officer at HMP & YOI Woodhill. He wins an Award having been nominated by ten prisoners as “a shining example of an outstanding Prison Officer” whose “positive and motivational attitude makes a real difference to the day-to-day lives of those around him.”
[This Award is supported by G4S Care & Justice Services.]

Initial Nominator, Josh*, says Mark ‘uses his knowledge, common sense and experience to achieve the best possible outcome for anyone and everyone. I have never heard anyone say or have a bad comment about Mr Coleman and he is hugely important to this prison in maintaining a fully functional prison, and a positive relationship between prisoners and officers.’

Butler Trust Local Champion Bianca Watts adds that ‘Mark is renowned for always treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless’ and ‘is the officer that prisoners and staff go to with their questions or issues with the full confidence that he will use his knowledge, common sense and experience to achieve the best and most appropriate possible outcome.’

Bianca says that ‘a lot of prisoners feel the house unit will not be the same without him there. Prisoners have often fed back that it is clear how driven Mark is and how much difference his positive and motivational attitude makes on their day to day lives. He is the spirit of HMP Woodhill through and through. Mark pushes everyone he meets to be their best self and encourages inmates to grow and develop. Mark Coleman is a truly invaluable member of the Woodhill family.’ She goes on to suggest that Mark’s ‘personal biggest reward is when he is making a daily difference and changing the lives of the men in his care. He has a down to earth, can-do and empathetic approach and always treats everyone as though they are the most important human being in the world.’

Bianca also points to Mark’s ‘excellent rapport with prisoners and staff of all grades. He has often been involved directly with prisoners during a dark time in their life and has personally helped to rehabilitate them onto a better path. It has been noted by another prisoner that he feels Mark has been directly responsible for saving the lives of some of his friends on the house unit.’

Impressively, ten prisoners chose to nominate Mark for the Butler Trust Awards. Michael* says Mark ‘gives 100% to his job’, while Robert says ‘his actions have saved lives as a direct consequence of him doing his job in the right way.’ Ed adds, ‘He’s straight down the line, you know where you stand with him. He will go above and beyond to help anyone he can. Mr Coleman stands out as one of the best’, while Mark calls him ‘an outstanding human being’, and Ahmed agrees, praising Mark for always ‘dealing with a prisoner as a human being.’

Woodhill’s Governor, Nicola Marfleet, adds her own praise for Mark, saying ‘he has the passion and resilience to keep serving offenders in a positive and hopeful way that we commend to all other members of staff.’

Mark himself is eloquent about what inspires and motivates him:

‘I go to work each morning and go through the gate not with trepidation or fear but with the knowledge that I am going to be working with individuals who have found themselves in a place they never imagined, and it is up to me and my colleagues to help them adjust to their current situation and learn from it and get the most out of it.’

He concludes by saying, ‘if I can make somebody’s stay in prison more bearable, and they take on board things I say to them, if I can help them turn their life around, see the error of their ways, and see that there is an alternative option to the problem they have, and the solution they came up with, if they feel they have been rehabilitated and they never return to prison then I can think that I had some part in it.’

* Prisoners’ names have been anonymised.

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