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

ZOE GAYWOOD (Ingeus Justice Services)

ZOE GAYWOOD (Ingeus Justice Services)

Zoe Gaywood

COMMENDEE 2022-23: Zoe, a Health Trainer with Ingeus’s Personal Wellbeing Team in Chesterfield,  is Commended as “an inspiration and role model for colleagues and service users alike”, for her outstanding dedication and skill in her work promoting the mental and physical wellbeing of people on probation.

Zoe’s Initial Nominator James Foreman is also Regional Manager for East Midlands Personal Wellbeing for Ingeus’s Commissioned Rehabilitative Services (CRS). He explains that she works as a member of the Personal Wellbeing Team in Chesterfield as a Health Trainer, supporting service user’s physical and mental wellbeing needs while on probation. This work ranges from organising GP appointments to supporting recovering addicts. He notes Zoe’s ‘outstanding commitment, passion and enthusiasm’ as a Health Trainer, calling her someone ‘who is always determined to provide the best possible care’ for service users.

James notes that Zoe’s lived experience helps inform her ‘clear understanding of how she can best meet the needs of those on probation’, but adds that ‘it’s how she uses this knowledge and experience which sets her apart. She has’, he says, ‘a fantastic ability to break down barriers with all individuals accessing the health trainer service’. In short, ‘people are able to relate to Zoe and trust her.’

He reports that Zoe ‘regularly receives glowing feedback from anyone who encounters her’ and is great at building ‘exceptionally strong working relationships with her colleagues at Chesterfield Probation Service.’ This in turn has led to an increase in referrals from probation practitioners because ‘they know they can trust and rely on [her] excellent service’. He concludes:

‘Zoe is a fantastic asset to the Health Trainer team – she’s an inspiration and a positive role model for both colleagues and service users alike. Dedicated, professional and always carrying out her role with a smile on her face, it’s a privilege to have her as part of the Ingeus Justice team.’

Butler Trust Local Champion and Marketing & Communications Director at Ingeus Communications, Rosalyn Allen, shares a further testimonial from James who says:

‘I have been absolutely blown away by Zoe’s professionalism and dedication. Zoe hit the ground running when she started nine months ago and she’s getting results and building an excellent reputation for herself and Ingeus’ Health Trainer service.’ And while studying towards her Level 3 Royal Society of Public Health qualification, ‘the tutor was so impressed that he recommended she works towards a diploma – this speaks volumes about her character. She’s a really brilliant person to have on our team. She’s so proactive and passionate about her work, it’s infectious and rubs off on other people. Zoe’s lived experience has given her the knowledge and experience to pass on to others, but she just has this natural ability to get the best out of people.’

Another colleague, Probation Service Officer Kelly Hearn, says that Zoe doesn’t just view a referral as ‘a box tick, she sees them as an individual.’ Kelly makes a powerful point about Zoe, too, pointing out that:

‘It is easy to become institutionalized and lose care and compassion, but she gives the wrap-around service that people need. It takes a very special person to do that. I’ve spent almost 20 years working within the justice system and haven’t come across many people like Zoe. She lights up what is, at times, a very dark place to be.’

Service users wanted to add their own words, too, with one saying they have been in prisons ‘and tried to get the help I needed but always been judged, and it’s only Zoe that has helped me. She’s always there if I need to call someone and she doesn’t judge me.’ Another just said ‘Zoe really is amazing.’

Zoe herself confides that ‘If you saw me on paper first, you’d judge me. But I don’t judge others. I’ve been through so much in the past and have a huge amount of empathy for people. I can get on their level – in so many cases I’ve been there myself.’

‘I just connect with people,’ she explains. ‘When people meet me their body language changes, they sit up and listen to my background. Then they show their vulnerable side. They know I understand the pain they’re carrying and they feel as if they’re not alone.’

Zoe’s line manager Amy Cheetham can add ‘a string of other examples ‘where Zoe has gone far beyond what is expected of her. Amy recalls a time when Zoe, who also leads a busy life outside of work with her children, ‘spent an evening keeping an intoxicated suicidal service user talking while she dialled emergency services and did everything she could to support him.’ Amy adds of Zoe that:

‘She has so much patience and is very calm in her approach, but is equally very assertive. People listen to her. She’s got natural skills that are very hard for people to learn. She’s great at making the links with people. She’s able to draw on her own life in deciding what support they need, and it’s that empathy and understanding which sets her apart.

Adam Hart is Chief Operating Officer for Ingeus Justice Services and says Zoe is an exceptional member of the Personal Wellbeing team, consistently demonstrating an ‘astounding in-built desire to help service users to improve their lives’, adding that Zoe ‘can be extremely proud of her work – she is an absolute credit to Ingeus’.

Zoe is generous herself in thanking those who helped her to her current role, saying that ‘if it wasn’t for the people who believed in me and who empowered me to believe in myself I don’t think I would be alive today let alone be in a role that enables me to help people have a brighter future,’ and adds, poignantly, ‘I have an opportunity to help others and encourage them to see that their life can be bright and beautiful.’ Zoe’s words about her background and drive make for a particularly moving conclusion to explain what makes her a Butler Trust winner:

‘I feel as if I’m making a difference to people’s lives. I’ve always been that kind of person since I was little, but years ago it was myself that I didn’t help. Once I got myself better, I knew I wanted to go back to helping people, and that will always continue. Now, I’m also trying to give back – I will always remember how and why my life changed with the support I received, and I believe I’m here to do the same for others.’