National Peer Supporter Awards at HMP Five Wells

Our National Peer Supporter Awards aims to champion the volunteering efforts of patients within prison. A first-of-its-kind initiative, our healthcare department at HMP Five Wells was the first of our sites to hold its annual Peer Supporter Awards ceremony for 2023.

Michaela Booth, our national head of participation

Launched during National Volunteers’ Week, the initiative shines a light on the positive contribution that prison volunteers make to their peers, through roles such as health champion and prison listener.

Voted for by healthcare staff, prison colleagues, and patients in prison, the quality of nominations demonstrates the importance these roles hold within our settings, and the positive encouragement our volunteers offer to their peers.

Patient awards were presented by Michaela Booth, our national head of participation, alongside Prudence Newman, patient engagement lead, and G4S’ prisoner experience lead, Ben Okoli. The trio marked the achievements of our winners – all trained health champions working on the Health Advice Service (HAS) line – with a certificate.

Working alongside patients on a daily basis, Prudence shares the importance the awards hold for the peer supporter community: “For some of our men, this might be the first time that they have received formal recognition of a job well done. For others, they may feel defined by their crime and the recognition can be an important stepping stone through which to rebuild their sense of worth.

“For most of us, it’s amazing to be recognised for our achievements; but for people in prison it often means so much more.”

Michaela Booth, National Head of Participation at Practice Plus Group

Reflecting on the positive impact which extends far beyond awards day, Michaela Booth comments: “As healthcare teams, we play an important – and sometimes unrecognised – part in the rehabilitative process. Patients often share the impact that our care and compassion has had on transforming their health, and also – on many occasions – their mind set.

“Providing opportunities for our patients to play a role in this same process for others, to hone their skills, and to be a part of something with a wider meaning can prove the catalyst to positive change – for both our volunteers, and their peers. “I’m so pleased to have been there on the day to present the awards, to hear more about the work these men and have been doing within the prison, and to help ensure they felt a sense of pride in their achievements.”

Requiring the completion of a formal application process, the volunteer roles are coveted positions of trust within prison settings – with volunteers nurturing skills and commitment worthy of celebration.

The first-of-its-kind in a prison setting, our Peer Supporter Awards place a unique focus on the achievements and potential of our patients to make a positive contribution to their communities – both inside and outside the prison walls.