ROBERT TAYLOR (HMP Addiewell)
COMMENDEE 2022-23: Robert is the Trades and Employability lead at HMP Addiewell and is granted a Commendation for his exemplary and inspirational management, his “infectious enthusiasm”, and the passion and commitment he brings to maximising the employment opportunities for prisoners on release.
Initial Nominator Cassie McMaster, a Tutor at Addiewell, calls Robert Taylor ‘a highly motivated, passionate, committed, and enthusiastic individual’ who is ‘a fantastic Ambassador for HMP Addiewell’ and has earned the respect of his peers and managers alike. A Team Leader within the Rehabilitation function of HMP Addiewell, Robert has been instrumental, says Cassie, in driving forward this business area ‘ensuring the residents receive the maximum support and opportunities preparing them for employment post release’, adding that Robert is ‘an extremely resourceful and innovative individual who will explore everything to ensure he achieves the highest standards for both the residents and staff within the prison.’
Cassie cites as an example how, last year, Robert sourced a new engaging purposeful activity and employment opportunity for residents in conjunction with the charity Sleep Pod. (Sleep Pods are an emergency aid designed for rough sleepers in severe weather conditions to help keep people warm and dry.) Robert secured a partnership with Sleep Pod, who in turn trained staff and residents on how to successfully build good quality sleep pods. ‘Our residents are all too aware of the issues surrounding homelessness’, adds Cassie, ‘and have been attending purposeful activity and supporting the charity by building new sleep pods. So far 500 sleep pods have been built and provided to Homeless Project Scotland for distribution to those most in need of protection from the elements as they sleep on the streets in Scotland.
Robert is also ‘leading the way’ to secure employment opportunities for residents within the prison upon release, says Cassie, ‘and proactively offering the education and purposeful activity residents need to gain the skills and experience to have the potential to secure these employment opportunities’.
Robert also forms part of the Social Impact group at HMP Addiewell and had led on several community and charity initiatives with Fauldhouse and Briech Community Trust – supporting individuals in the local community and driving fundraising for children’s parties and community events.
Describing Robert’s ‘infectious enthusiasm’ and calling him ‘an extremely inspirational and outstanding individual’ whose drive and commitment is acknowledged ‘by everyone who meets him,’ he is often praised by residents, his peers, the Senior Leadership Team as well as professional visitors to the prison. Cassie concludes ‘We are extremely proud of the difference Robert makes within the prison and the local community.’
Butler Trust Local Champion Denise McGuigan, Head of Employee Engagement at HMP Addiewell, adds that Robert is ‘the best Team Leader’, leading through change and continually introducing social impact projects and charity fundraising. Denise quotes a more personal note from Cassie, who says:
‘I very much feel supported to be the best I can be and Robert always inspires me to reach further and gives me the confidence to explore creative avenues – and with Robert’s support on the logistics he always makes things happen. The education department every day benefits from having Robert leading us.
Denise also shares a testimonial from a colleague, DT, who says he first met Robert when he started in the prison almost two years ago. ‘Right away I could see what a dedicated and hardworking team leader he was. He interviewed me for my current position and his passion for his department and his staff shone through,’ adding that Robert is also involved in a wide variety of charity projects ‘into which he pours his heart and soul,’ and pointing to his ‘rare gift of being able to motivate and inspire others’ with his ‘infectious’ positivity. DT concludes ‘I am very proud and honoured to have Robert as my team leader and I hope that I may have the pleasure of working alongside him for many more years to come.’ Robert’s colleague Kirsty Drysdale, meanwhile, says he has ‘a heart of gold’ and ‘always goes the extra mile to ensure you are fully supported in all your endeavors.’
A Community Garden Representative, meanwhile, says:
‘We would like to say a massive thank you for the lovely mural Robert and the team completed on the rear of the Portacabin. A lot of the villagers have commented on the view of it coming down from Loganlea and how it cheers up the whole area. It’s bright and bold and very eye-catching – and well worth the effort that has been put into it.
We realise this would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and support provided by Robert Taylor. Right from the start of our village garden project, Robert has gone the extra mile by providing us with the bark which allowed us to construct the path leading to the picnic area, allowed members of his staff the time to develop the mural, as well as supplying all of the paint used in the mural – and recently just bringing tools for us to use in the garden. Robert has continually enquired what more support he could provide in the development of the garden for which we are very grateful.’
Governor Fraser Munro adds that Robert is ‘a wonderful example of a glass half full personality’, who undertakes his role ‘with a smile’ and yet is ‘always challenging his staff and the residents to reach for a better position in life.’ Robert’s innovations have, adds Fraser, brought joy to those less fortunate through the tireless work he puts into social impact projects, calling him ‘truly a force of nature and without whom this prison would genuinely have lost a bit of its beating compassionate heart.’
Robert himself adds that he ‘takes great pride in supporting and guiding my team to allow them to be the very best they can be.’