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AWARD WINNER 2018-19: Rhian is a Probation Services Officer for North West National Probation Service. She wins an Award for transforming purposeful activities for residents at Merseybank Approved Premises, including developing ‘Probationary’, a board game promoting service user engagement and resettlement.
[This Award is granted in memory of Kathy Biggar Baker.]
Rhian’s Line Manager, Senior Probation Officer Kelly Roberts, is also her Initial Nominator and the Butler Trust Local Champion, and wrote:
‘I have been a Senior Probation Officer and Manager for eight years and I can honestly say Rhian Metcalf is one of the most committed and determined people I have ever worked with. Rhian is a Probation Services Officer working within the Approved Premises (AP) division in the North West and goes above and beyond in every aspect of her role.’
Kelly explains that part of Rhian’s role involves providing ‘Purposeful Activities for our residents to engage with. We have a very limited budget towards activities so Rhian has taken it upon herself to go out into our local community and persuade organisations, companies and various training providers to come and work with us at Merseybank without any cost.’
Kelly outlines an interesting and inspiring example, one of many, from the last year, where Rhian secured new partnerships and projects in Merseybank. She brought together Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) Community Arts Centre and Liverpool John Moores University. They came into the Merseybank AP for six weeks, ‘and together with Rhian and a number of our residents they developed a board game, similar to Monopoly or the Game of Life, called Probationary: The Game of Life on Licence. Probationary reflects real life experiences and highlights the obstacles offenders face throughout the journey on licence and the difficulties they face as they try to reintegrate into their communities following incarceration.’ Kelly adds:
‘The Father of one of our residents come into Merseybank to play the game once it was completed and he said ‘I hadn’t realised the difficulties my son had faced since his release from prison’.’
‘This is just once example of dozens in which Rhian has contacted organisations to come into Merseybank and work with us’, says Kelly, ‘and we now have a full time-table of activities (two per day) for our residents, most of which involve training or employment opportunities with external agencies. Rhian is driven and creative… I can honestly say that Rhian comes up with bright ideas on a weekly basis. She has taken the residents to museums, art galleries, theatre trips and is always seeking out places of culture and interest for our residents.’
Meanwhile, explains Kelly, Rhian stepped up to help achieve the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Enabling Environment Award at Merseybank AP, ‘and whilst the Award is for the whole team’s interaction and engagement, Rhian took the lead in bringing the portfolio together for our assessors. Following the submission of the portfolio, the Assessors came to Merseybank to confirm the contents of the submission. Rhian took it upon herself to get a group of residents together and put an itinerary together for assessment day. The Assessors said it was an “incredible” day at Merseybank.’
Kelly adds that:
‘Rhian is creative, innovative and incredibly tenacious. She often has aspirations for our premises and at times I wonder if they are going to be possible, but she brings ideas to life and has offered our residents opportunities that they have never had before… Rhian’s enthusiasm is infectious and if things are ever feeling difficult at Merseybank she will spread her positivity and remind everybody of the wonderful things that we have achieved and will talk of further developments for the future.’
Part of Rhian’s enthusiasm, Kelly says, is ‘how incredibly proud she is to work for the National Probation Service. She is interested in all aspects of our work and is always enthused when talking about rehabilitation and changing lives. She is one of the most hardworking, committed, dynamic individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with.’
Colleagues concur, with Lisa Whittaker, Area Manager for NorthWest AP Division, calling Rhian ‘a wonderful ambassador for Merseybank Approved Premises’ and praising her ‘innovation and determination’ in developing partnerships. Detective Inspector Simon Carwithern, another colleague, regularly praises Rhian’s professionalism and commitment, says Kelly, who also notes that, ‘I have had numerous letters from residents who have moved on from Merseybank and have wanted me to thank Rhian for the work she did with them during their time with us.’ Probation Divisional Director, Roz Hamilton, too, praised the ‘consistently high quality work’ done by Rhian.
Rhian’s enthusiasm is rooted in her understanding ‘from an early stage in my profession that a large proportion of our client group did not yet have the skills and confidence to operate effectively within new environments. I saw this as a barrier to their progression. I truly believe that the clients I work with have a large amount of potential and that through guidance, provision and education they can excel.’
She recalls that, ‘On my very first day in the Probation Service I remember feeling consumed by a feeling that I was in the right place, doing exactly what I should be doing. I felt such a strong sense of belonging and purpose, my career means the world to me. This job is my life and I am very proud to work as an Officer.’
Rhian concludes with the inspiring hope that, ‘I can only hope that my career will continue to evolve and that I will be able to make a monumental difference in the lives of offenders and even in the rehabilitative practices of our organisation, focusing on the professional and educational development of our service users.’
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