Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2020-21: Mick Groombridge is a Prison Officer with a career spanning over thirty years, who is nominated not only for his outstanding character and professional qualities, but also for his sterling work helping deliver diversity and Veteran based initiatives to the highest level. In the past he has also received a Governor’s Commendation for saving a man’s life and been a finalist in the Prison Officer of The Year 2018 for saving another man’s life.
His initial nominator, Head of Function Andrew Taylor, sums up some of Mick’s qualities well, “It’s the range of work that Mick does, the passion, energy and commitment that he brings to it, which results in him being so well-respected by residents, peers and managers.”
Andrew also highlighted the Governor’s remarks about “Mick’s fantastic work on many occasions. I’m extremely lucky to have an officer of his calibre, he simply works all shift, every shift to make a difference to people’s lives.”
Mick, says Andrew, “is a keen advocate in ensuring that all residents have a voice in their community and takes extraordinary steps to ensure this happens. Mick has volunteered as an Equalities Officer and leads on the BAME strand on the Albany site. He has taken up this role with passion and enthusiasm and this has been well received by the residents and staff alike. An excellent example of this was his determination and single mindedness in preparing for the Black History event. Mick worked closely with the Head of Equalities, the Head of the Kitchen and residents from BAME backgrounds to ensure that arrangements for the event were seamless and that the event ran to plan and schedule. Mick’s enthusiasm for the event meant that he often attended work in his own time to ensure that everything was a success. Mick was such a leading figure in the organisation of the event that without his input, the event would not have been the success it was.” An external visitor praised the event as “a vibrant display of race, culture and history”.
Calling his contribution “far-reaching”, Andrew says that without Mick’s energy “events such as the Veterans service, Black History celebrations and the commemoration of the Holocaust simply would not been so enormously successful”, adding that his undiminished “energy, enthusiasm and commitment” after over three decades “really does exemplify the best qualities of a Prison Officer.”
Mick’s support to colleagues is also highly appreciated as he is “always keen to support all staff in their day-to-day work in whatever they are doing, using his experience to always ‘get the job done’. We have had a lot of new staff in the prison recently and Mick has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the new staff are fully supported in what is a critical time in their careers. He has mentored some of these new staff and staff have reported that the support he has provided them is ‘first class’.”
Andrew sums Mick up as “a fantastic role model and an inspirational character” with “the courage to stand out from the crowd and do what he knows is right.” He concludes by reporting another long serving colleagues remark: “If you had a prison full of Micky Gs it would an amazing place, he is just a fantastic member of staff…”
Butler Trust Local Champion and People Hub Manager Lorraine Greenhalgh shared more impressive testimonials, and quoted Mick’s Line Manager who calls Mick “an outstanding example of rehab culture.” Meanwhile a resident says: “If you want something to happen, Mr G is your man…”
A senior manager, meanwhile, witnessed first-hand how Mick “successfully defused and managed, using rehab culture, a serious incident on the wing, where he was very nearly assaulted by a resident. How Mick managed this was a lesson in Prison craft and is a testament to the good work he does on a daily basis.”
Dougie Graham, the Governing Governor, knows Mick very well, and calls him “an exceptional officer for so many reasons,” and praises his “quick and decisive actions” as “pivotal in preventing serious harm or self-inflicted deaths.” Dougie adds that Mick’s “fastidious attention to his duties demonstrates an enormous care for individuals. It’s these qualities that mean that his everyday actions are literally life-saving.”
Dougie concludes by saying that Mick is “so well-respected by residents, peers and managers – I’m extremely lucky to have an officer of his calibre.”
As well to the Black History work outlined above, Mick himself adds some interesting details of how he got involved in the Veterans in Custody group:
“Four ago I was approached by a Resident who I knew carried out a large amount of work as a Representative. He told me there was a problem finding a member of staff who could run meetings for the Veterans in Custody group. I asked what this would entail, and volunteered on the spot, even though I had no service experience myself. We are a very inclusive group, and even though not all who attend the group have service experience, they may be from service families or people who want to become involved. They do a huge amount of work supporting the group with administration, organising and information. We commence every meeting with me personally handshaking every one present. Our celebrations involve the outside community where possible, and are inclusive of all groups regardless. I have been particularly proud of the manner this group performs and the high success rate of moving on and progressing with their sentence plans.”
Mick concludes with some inspiring words, saying “Instilling hope has been one of my aims in this establishment for those older men who are serving long sentences after historic offences.”