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

PAT BANNIGAN (SWM CRC)

PAT BANNIGAN (SWM CRC)

AWARD WINNER 2020-21: Patrick ‘Pat’ Bannigan, who works for the Staffordshire & West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company as part of the Reducing Reoffending Partnership, is a Resettlement Case Worker who has focused on Finance, Benefit & Debt with extraordinary results – including helping service users deal with debts of around £10 million and helping them set up over 2,500 bank accounts.
[This Award is supported by G4S Care & Justice Services.]

Pat’s Line Manager and Initial Nominator, Beverley Caesar, details some of the work of a remarkable man, with a particularly arresting opening line: “They call him ‘The Money Man.’ The go-to-person who is helping prisoners with part of the transition journey from custody…”

As Beverley notes, “Setting up financial support for a service user reduces the risk that they will re-offend again because they cannot afford to buy food or pay their rent.” Pat, she says, “always strives to deliver an effective and encompassing service. After attending a training event on economic abuse and the associated control of family finances, Pat put together a training package for women prisoners that is now delivered in the prison establishments.”

Meanwhile, if a prisoner is discharged from custody at HMP Leicester without setting up a bank account, “Pat runs a community surgery where he meets the service user. He then accompanies them to a bank and helps the individual to set up an account. Pat is one of those exceptional people who always tries to deliver the best service he can, which is not easy when dealing with individuals who have repeatedly avoided thinking about money management in the hope their debts will simply just go away.”

Sarah Brookes, HMPPS Contract & Governance Manager and Local Butler Trust Champion shares some of impressive testimonials to Pat’s work:

RRP Head of Resettlement and Interventions, Carrie Peters calls Pat “a wonderfully kind and generous man who demonstrates his commitment and passion in everything he does. I have no idea how he manages to deliver such excellent services across so many different establishments and the feedback from colleagues and service users alike is always exceptional. Then, on top of that he manages to design and deliver training for his colleagues across RRP, constantly spotting things that may help and working out how to do something about it. And if all that wasn’t enough, he also keeps a close eye on developing needs and emerging research and has designed a number of new interventions for us, usually before we have even realised we need them! Always thinking of others, Pat excels in his role and brings innovation, drive and enthusiasm to work every single day.”

Another colleague, Resettlement Unit Manager Nic Holland of HMP Foston Hall and HMP Peterborough, calls Pat “an absolute star and well respected by the staff and the service users at Foston Hall”, praising his ability “to deliver with integrity, understanding and empathy” a programme that has “ensured that the women who have attended have felt safe and benefitted from this advice. I’m not sure how Pat manages to work with such demands, but he does and he does it with a big smile on his face!! Well done Pat for doing such a brilliant job and making a difference!”

HMPPS Contract Manager, Wendy Aubrey, says Pat “is extremely hard working”, while Steve Clarke of St. Giles Trust says “throughout the years, Pat has always given 100 percent and has supported thousands of prisoners that would not have been able to take control of their finances.”

Pat has played a role on the national stage, too, and is sometimes contacted by MOJ staff with responsibility for finance/banking to comment on the suitability of wording and applications in new publications. Meanwhile, during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Beverley reports, “Pat immediately called his MOJ contacts to check on the new processes for opening a bank account and claiming Universal Credit. He then ensured that this information was shared across all the prisons in RRP’s area.”

Chief Executive Officer Adam Hart is impressed by the wider impact of Pat’s work, too, and the qualities he brings to it: “To produce and present information for use by the resettlement teams takes meticulous attention to detail and considerable IT knowledge. Pat has received commendations from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales (HMI Prisons) for his FBD work. He has successfully created a work programme that gives his colleagues confidence when dealing with these issues and, in turn, empowers service users to gain a better understanding of financial management – perhaps for the first time in their adult lives. These achievements are evidence of his expertise, but I have also heard of Pat’s incredible warmth, innovation and positivity. He radiates calm that staff members find reassuring as Pat’s ‘can do’ approach guarantees a resolution to the difficulties they are facing. An amazing team player who is happy to act on his own initiative when required.”

Pat, who has worked in prisons for around 15 years, sums up his philosophy: “I strongly believe that all services users should, were possible, be encouraged to take control of their issues and act for themselves, taking ownership of their problems.”

He goes on to outline three short interventions he’s delivered, and each encapsulates how important – indeed vital – this area is:

  • Money Management: “A look at financial decision making, budgeting with a small income, staying out of debts, and options when in debt. Always leading to help required on release.”
  • Economic Abuse as an element of Domestic Abuse: “This was starting to be delivered in Women’s prisons such as HMP Foston Hall when Covid 19 intervened. It looks at various aspects of control through financial restrictions by a partner. It is a difficult one to deliver, but its function is to make the recipients aware of how they may be being manipulated in this way, and what they can safely do.”
  • Helping You Get By in a Changed World: “Aimed at long serving prisoners coming up for release, often released by the Parole Board and not through a resettlement prison. We look at how the world has changed. This covers practical issues like registering with a GP, to more practical things like ‘money really is plastic’. Long term prisoners need help with life skills.”

Coronavirus lockdown has meant that some of Pat’s work has been driven through workbooks rather than small sessions, but he’s looking to the future to continue to develop these programmes, a future in which no doubt many more people will benefit from his expertise and care.

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