Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2018-19: Nichola is a Workshop Instructor at HMP Leeds. She receives a Commendation for her contributions, on a voluntary basis, to three different staff equality and diversity networks, and for developing a widely praised toolkit on working with transgender offenders.
Kate Jones is Nichola’s Initial Nominator, and the National Lead of the Pride in Prisons and Probation (PiPP) LGBT+ staff support network, and manages Nic in her voluntary capacity as PiPP area lead for North East & Yorkshire:
‘Nic is an unstoppable bundle of energy who has shown huge commitment and dedication to the network since it formed, from creating promotional materials and presentations to shouldering the responsibility for promoting all three staff support networks across prisons and probation… Through building relationships with probation managers, she has ensured that probation staff have been able to access the networks and information about them, and has grown P.i.P.P membership in the area from 86 in November 2016 to 660 in March 2018 across both prisons and probation, with a majority of these also joining the DAWN and RISE networks. Nic hasn’t just had an impact on her area, but all HMPPS staff, the organisation and external community relations.
‘After the release of PSI 17/2016: the Care & Management of transgender offenders, PiPP started receiving a lot of queries about the PSI, and it became apparent that there was confusion and panic among staff about what it meant. Nic listened to the concerns of staff and realised that a lack of awareness was the source of the concerns. To resolve this, Nic decided to create a helpful toolkit for prison staff to explain the different trans identities, terminology and how to work sensitively with trans people as well as meet the standards set by the PSI. She reached out to external trans organisations and individuals to work collaboratively with them, learning about the issues they faced and seeking constructive feedback to ensure the stated outcomes were met and the toolkit was user friendly. In addition, she approached authors of the PSI to ensure that the toolkit complimented and linked to the PSI and operational guidance, as well as asking staff to proof-read it to ensure that it was written in a way that they could understand. During the process it became apparent that expanding the work to cover probation staff would be helpful, and as such Nic worked collaboratively with the Doncaster & Rotherham probation team to create a probation specific toolkit. Both toolkits were endorsed by 3 transgender organisations and HMPPS who released them nationally to all HMPPS staff via the intranet.”
A range of feedback by staff, Equality Leads and Governor grades includes: “Thanks for the very informative and well written [toolkit];’ ‘The toolkit is excellent and I am encouraging all staff to access this and be familiar with at least the key points;’ ‘Very useful, straight to the point and thought provoking.’
Karen adds: “She’s also cast attention onto LGBT+ BAME communities by writing the content for newsletters celebrating Black History Month which was well received and praised, and for Asian Heritage Month.”
Chris Robinson, Butler Trust Local Champion and Head of Business Assurance, adds that ‘Nichola has been part of the LGBT support network since the days of GALIPs,’ and notes that ‘she says the PSI was written in managerial speak, so needed to be broken down into what it actually meant to staff! This has had a massively positive impact on the lives of transgender prisoners.’ He calls Nichola ‘a very strong minded, driven and professional individual.’
There were a number of other testimonials. Amy Froggat, an Officer at HMP Lincoln, described Nichola as: ‘an inspirational colleague and friend, she is always happy to help and remains motivated to promote cultural change within HMPPS’, while Andy Ritchie, Equalities Manager at HMP Risley, said ‘Nic has been a HUGE help to PiPP with regards to anything trans related; her knowledge in this is immense and she has always been there to steer the group in the right direction with her knowledge, professionalism and dedication in this very important area of equalities.’
Andy Holmes, a SO at HMP Stafford and PiPP Regional Lead, said ‘Nichola Turner is, in my 15 years of experience of working for HMPPS, the most dedicated and passionate supporter of LGBT throughout the service I have ever met. She will go above and beyond to help anyone and I am proud to call her a colleague and honoured to call her my friend.’ Meanwhile Kerry Hirst, a 2017-18 Butler Trust Winner, and Yorkshire Safer Custody Lead, said ‘Nicola is passionate, committed and believes in making a difference to those that can feel unsupported and in the minority. She has offered her services to support the wider trans community and her commitment has helped our prisoners feel safe and listened to.’
Nichola reports that the the GALIPS (Gays and Lesbians in the Prison Service) and LAGIP (Lesbians and Gays in Probation) networks merged into a joint network now known as PiPP, and describes her ‘huge passion for equality, especially in relation to LGBTI+ issues,’ and how her work ‘helped to develop a positive relationship with the local Leeds trans community who have overcome reservations about prisons due to negative reports of trans prisoner deaths, via working closer with me on these pieces of work. They have gone from holding a negative view of the service to viewing us as allies and inviting PiPP to community events such as the first Leeds trans pride.’
It is, she says, ‘an incredible turnaround in community relations’ which she is justly ‘proud to have been a part of.’
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