HMP Peterborough is the UK’s only purpose-built prison to hold both men and women, although the two are kept separate at all times.
Back in 2014, we began a prisoner engagement project to set up and support a team of wellbeing representatives to share health and social care issues.
The project aimed to
- give them skills and knowledge to support other prisoners, capture issues and highlight available services
- empower them to share and promote preventative health and wellbeing campaigns
- capture the health and social care issues faced by prisoners’ families and make recommendations to commissioners and providers.
The teams ran stands with us at a prison-staff wellbeing day and also supported the induction process in the male unit.
Together we also carried out research with male prisoners aged 50-plus around awareness of bowel cancer screening.
Prisoners becoming more health aware
This work has enabled national organisations to promote preventive health and wellbeing campaigns to prisoners to help improve their health.
Reduction in complaints
The prison has received fewer complaints about prisoners’ medication and the prisoners themselves have become more confident in the system.
Getting more prisoners’ voices heard
The introduction of a wellbeing representative has helped encourage prisoners to share their concerns. It has given new prisoners someone to talk to who they feel they can be more open with than staff members.
National recognition for the project
In March 2016, our project was recognised by CliNKS, the organisation supporting voluntary organisations in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.
We were thrilled to be picked as one of six national projects highlighting good practice in service user involvement.
Sharing best practice across the country
This work has been shared with local Healthwatch across the country, including training on how to train wellbeing representatives.
In addition, both NICE and the Care Quality Commission have asked Healthwatch Peterborough to help support them in terms of their information on prisoner health and delivery.
Pictured above: those working on the project included: from left, prison officer Amanda pictured with Healthwatch Peterborough Chief Operating Officer Angela Burrows, management group volunteer Rosemary Dickens and signposting and information officer Jennifer Hodges.