Sunday, July 17, 2011

Going to jail with James Timpson

This blog isn't about work, but I do want to include a link here to a piece I wrote in Insider. I went to visit Forest Bank prison in Salford with James Timpson, the managing director of his family owned shoe repair and key cutting business. It was one of the most unsettling, yet inspirational days I've ever had. It opened my eyes to life inside the prison system and to the extraordinary things that people can do to change broken lives. You can read it here.

2 comments:

Nick Morrell said...

What a great article Michael. Showing what great work there is being done in all our prisons.

As you know HMP Lancaster Castle has now closed. Prior to closure it was the top performing Cat C prison in the North West and third in the country. Despite that, the current Government decided it wasn't fit for purpose and all the staff were moved elsewhere in the North West.

I was fortunate enough (from a travel point of view, if nothing else) to be posted to Lancaster Farms. I've been there nearly 6 months now and what an eye opener it's been. Whereas I was fomerly working with 'career criminals' who'd maybe been in and out of prison for 20-30 years, I now work with some of the most violent, poorly educated, ruthless and (in some cases) mentally ill 18-21 year olds in the country.
Many of these kids are at such an age where they have no respect for any kind of authority nor any desire to escape from the completely chaotic lifestyles they lead om 'the out'.

Yet there is some wonderful work being done with these prisoners. From simply trying to give them some kind of work ethic through to courses aimed at addressing substance related offending. Central to all the great work being done is the Healthcare Unit run by the local NHS Trust. Unfortunately in the next few weeks the permanent healthcare ward is to close, due to Government cuts. This will mean that there will be no 24 hour mental health cover and that our most seriously mentally ill prisoners will be integrated into the mainstream population.

Perhaps even more worrying is the threat of privatisation. Is it morally right that company directors' main concern is making a profit, rather than the safe custody of those committed by the courts and the health and safety of the people paid to look after them?

You would love to come and have a look around HMYOI Lancaster Farms, as long as it didn't bring back too many bad memories of the 'Set Run' at LRGS. If you fancy it, drop me a line

Michael Taylor said...

Love to do that Nick. My experience of Forest Bank was that privatised prisons are well run.