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



COMMENDEE 2012-13: Substance Misuse Manager: for contributions to the Duke of Edinburgh scheme at HMP/YOI Ashfield.

Rory Maguire, Substance Misuse Manager at HMP and YOI Ashfield, receives a commendation for ‘contributions to the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme’ at his establishment.

Rory has been Awards Manager for Ashfield’s Duke of Edinburgh Award programme since 2008, with his hard work and enthusiasm helping to build it into a widely recognised example of good practice. The award is designed to give young people ‘the chance to develop skills for work and life, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future,’ and the scheme runs four 18-week programmes a year at Ashfield.

The groups – made up of eight young people in each – meet once or twice a week, with additional fourday training walks helping to boost physical fitness, team working and communication skills. As well as gaining skills that allow them to make better decisions and move away from offending behaviour, participants also learn important lessons about health and nutrition. The scheme is also invaluable in building trust and selfesteem, and the awards are recognised by employers throughout the world.

Overnight camps are initially organised on the prison grounds to reassure Rory that he can trust the young people before allowing them to take part in camping outside. Although some establishments deliver the service entirely within the confines of the establishment walls, Rory is a firm believer that participants need to feel trusted in order for the scheme to be fully successful. Outside activities also give them the chance to experience the sense of achievement that comes with successfully planning and completing an expedition.

Staff and young people complete the programme together, with many of the latter going on to act as mentors. Dropouts from the scheme are rare, and tend to occur only when someone leaves the establishment, although many who have yet to finish their award when they are released have then been allowed back to complete it. Fifty-two young people achieved bronze or silver awards between 2009 and early 2012, and reoffending rates among them remain low.

As well as obtaining core funding from outside agencies to help improve the programme, Rory managed to secure Ashfield its own Duke of Edinburgh Award operating licence and is also responsible for all of the administration work that goes along with running the programme. He has also made imaginative use of ROTL (release on temporary licence) – which involves comprehensive risk assessments and approval from a number of agencies – to maximise the benefits of the participants’ experience.

Finally, and crucially, the fact that both young people and staff take part in the awards means that each comes to learn more about the other as they interact in a different environment. ‘These interactions carry back to the wings where both parties learn to see from a different perspective,’ said Rory. ‘This has much wider implications than a prison wing and is something a young person will always carry with them.’

For more information: contact HMP/YOI Ashfield

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