By nacro

in Nacro news

By Sebastian Wells, Data & Research Officer

Recently, myself and fellow External Engagement team member, Andrea, took a trip to Wolverhampton to visit HMP Featherstone. After getting off the train it was just a short taxi ride to the prison gates, where we were welcomed by Fiona Stebbing, Operations Lead for Nacro’s education delivery at the prison.

After getting our I.D. cards and being let into the prison by the gate staff, we were taken to the education delivery office through a labyrinth of corridors and heavy iron gates. Here we met the horticulture teacher, Matt, as well as other education staff, with whom we had a nice lunch. Unfortunately, my metal fork wasn’t allowed into the prison due to regulations, but thankfully Fiona provided me with a plastic one so that I didn’t have to eat my homemade chilli with my hands.

After lunch, Fiona took us on a tour of the different wings – as all the prisoners were in their cells, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. We saw the well-equipped gym and library, and also the medical ward, which looked just like a GP’s surgery. Following this we went to the carpentry and mechanics department, where we met a group of service users who were soon going to finish their Level 1 mechanics course.

They had tons of praise for Nacro’s education delivery, with multiple men saying that Paul Ward-Trickett, the Motor Vehicle Tutor, was the best teacher they had ever had. They told us how he really puts in the extra effort to help everyone get through the course, no matter their particular needs. Paul even translated the entire course into Bosnian to help one service user whose written English was limited, and because of this help he managed to pass the course with flying colours.

They added that there is a need for further Level 2 courses to help find employment on the outside. Staff also reported more needs to be done to make sure people are ready for work when they leave prison – they want to see customer service, business skills, and health and safety being taught among other things to ensure that people are work-ready when they leave.

After bidding farewell to Paul and the service users, Stewart Hopgood, the Motor Vehicle Lead Tutor, took us on a tour of the carpentry and bricklaying teaching areas. Here we met Jagmeet Singh, the Carpentry Tutor, saw the metal works and the painting area, before finally getting a tour of the horticulture facilities – which included seeing the prison’s pet chickens – a great end to an interesting day.

It was an impressive visit and great to see the quality of the facilities and the enthusiasm of Nacro’s education staff. It is clear there is a really passion from staff at Featherstone and the service users really value their efforts.

We want to extend a massive thank you very much to Fiona and Stewart for showing us around, as well as to Paul and his students, and all the other education staff, for taking the time to talk to us. It was a fantastic day out and we hope to be back again soon!