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Serco Custodial Operations Manager at HMP Doncaster given commendation by Butler Trust

This year’s Butler Trust Awards were announced in January 2022 and they saw many individuals working across the prison service being awarded and commended for their extraordinary efforts.

One such individual was Emily Hazard, a Custodial Operations Manager at HMP/YOI Doncaster, who was given a commendation by the Butler Trust.

The Butler Trust is a charity that gives praise and promotes good practice among those working in the penal system in the United Kingdom and their patron is HRH The Princess Royal.

Emily’s Commendation was given due to a series of impactful changes she made to the prison’s Early Days Centre (EDC).

An EDC is where newly arrived prisoners are housed for their first few days before getting moved to a prison’s houseblock and wing. Prisoners residing in the EDC will arguably be at their most vulnerable due to the initial shock of starting to adapt to prison life.

One of Emily’s main changes to the EDC was to seek out officers with a personal interest in getting this crucial ‘first experience’ right. She then recruited a group of ‘Insiders’ – prisoners who act as peer support workers and who know prison life and want to support newcomers. One year later after implementing this change, visitors to the prison called her work “best practice” and “inspirational” and have said the EDC feels like a therapeutic community.

Another change Emily implemented was to recruit a support network of prisoners known as “insiders”. Insiders help new arrivals in a variety of ways including making sure their prison cell is clean and the new arrival has all the basic equipment as they are given an induction into the prison. Insiders include lifers, men recalled to prison and young adults. So, if someone turns up with specific needs or concerns there’s an Insider who can provide advice based on personal lived experience.

Among many positive outcomes from Emily’s efforts, notes Max Rumley, Emily Hazard’s initial nominator and her manager at HMP/YOI Doncaster “is a significant reduction in self-harm and violence.” He calls Emily “a truly inspirational individual who is driven by her passion to provide an environment where prisoners can grow and prosper.”

As part of Emily’s nomination for a Butler Trust Award, testimonials were submitted by prisoners who benefitted from Emily’s improvements to Doncaster’s EDC.

‘Mark’ (name changed) writes:

“In my 17 years of being in prison I have never witnessed a manager with so much passion and care towards the residents. When I came here nobody wanted to give me a chance because of my past and pre-conceptions but Emily saw the potential and encouraged me to lead the Insider project.

By giving me a chance, I have been able to prove to others I can be better than other people believed I could. Emily’s door is always open. In all my time in jail I have never put anybody forward for an award and in 17 years I have met many officers – none of which have shown the dedication Emily has.”

Another prisoner, ‘Andy’, writes:

“In all my time in custody I have never seen a manager take over a role and completely change the dynamic as Emily has. She has created a peer mentor team which in my opinion is second to none, not only in Doncaster but the entire prison network.

The changes Emily has made to the residents’ early days in custody will not be forgotten throughout our sentence. I would like to thank her personally and on behalf of all the residents whose lives she has changed, and I hope she realises the good she has done.”

Emily’s colleagues added their own testimonials too with one being “forever grateful to Emily for her honourable service” and another saying to Emily “you’ve smashed it and left a legacy.”

Contract Director John Hewitson gave a statement about Emily’s achievement saying:

“She has put her heart and soul into making a difference; she should be so proud of what she has achieved and of the effect she has on those around her, her colleagues included.”