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Pilot Prisoner Engagement

Award Winning – Prisoner Engagement Project


(from L-R) Amanda, Prison Officer; Angela Burrows Chief Operating Officer HWP; Rosemary Dickens, volunteer HWP Management Group; Jennifer Hodges  former Signposting and Information Officer HWP

  • Background Information
    • Peterborough has a large diverse prison situated in the centre of the city – currently undergoing expansion (additional 300 beds)
    • HMP Peterborough is a category B male prison and closed female prison
    • Male prison houses 624 prisoners, all aged over 18, both remand, convicted and sentenced (over 21) prisoners
    • Female prison is a multi-functional closed female prison with operational capacity of 384 housing:

    First-stage lifers
    Youth Offender Institution (YOIs)
    remand and sentenced women
    incorporating a 12-bedded Mother and Baby Unit

    Aims and objectives

    • to promote meaningful engagement with, and support to empower, prisoners to act as wellbeing representatives (through peer-to-peer working)
    • To provide the Wellbeing Reps the skills and knowledge to support other prisoners, capture the issues and highlight available services
    • To empower the Wellbeing Reps to share and promote preventative health and wellbeing campaigns to improve prisoner health
    • To capture the health and social care issues that face prisoners’ families and make recommendations to commissioners and providers


    • Establish meaningful engagement with prisoners and prison staff
    • Trained identified prisoners to become Wellbeing Representatives
    • Raise awareness of the healthwatch network with prison organisations
    • Support Wellbeing Reps at first event (prison-staff Wellbeing Day)
    • Formulate method, training and support to empower prisoners to act as Wellbeing Representatives (to include and develop peer-to-peer support)
    • Create Train the Trainer and full project delivery scheme to provide project delivery across the network
    • Share project with he healthwatch network

    Follow up

    • Obtain feedback on services to identify:
      • gaps in service and/or failings in communications
      • barriers to access services and continuity of care
      • share national health and wellbeing campaigns within prisons
      • share and highlight/promote best practice
      • Health and social care issues facing those supporting/families of prisoners
    • Present evidence-based findings to commissioners  with recommendations for improvements
    • Create feedback sheet that will contain fields to populate the
      Healthwatch England infobank and monitor trends

     Wellbeing Reps key duties.

    • To be point of contact to share health and social care issues
      • By holding focus group meetings – with those with common identifiable characteristics (i.e. diabetes, over 60 years, BME, smokers)
      • By providing suggestion boxes – for anonymous feedback, questions & requests
      • Drop in session, holding open sessions where other prisoners can speak to the Wellbeing Rep and be signposted for support
      • To highlight health and social care campaigns to provide preventative messages from national campaigns
        • Creating prisoner-friendly promotional health and wellbeing campaign material
        • Requesting and working with organsiations to come & hold information days/events
        • Support and provide information at wellbeing days in the prison for prisoners and staff

    Project updates

    • We completed the training with first two male and two female Wellbeing Reps on the male and female units at HMP Peterborough that started at the end of February 2014.
    • They have developed a range of skills and knowledge to empower them to act as advocates to support and encourage better health and wellbeing of prisoners.
    • At the end of May 2014, the Wellbeing Reps, along with Healthwatch Peterborough, facilitated a stand at a prison-staff Wellbeing Day.
    • In the male unit, the Wellbeing Rep supports the induction process – with advice and signposting and highlighting the work of the Healthwatch network.
    • In April 2015 we carried out research with male over 50s in the prison around Bowel Cancer Screening awareness.
    • During 2015-16 we shared the training with other Healthwatches to promote better engagement with the prisoner population.
    • In March 2016 we were recognised as one of six national projects that is an example of Good Practice in Service User Involvement by national organisation CLiNKS. Click here for report.
    • We are currently developing the project to be sustainable.

    Joint Working


We have been fortunate to welcome Ovacome and Bowel Cancer UK to hold presentations and Q&A sessions to share information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for ovarian cancer and bowel cancer. Both sessions were well attended with positive feedback from prisoners who welcomed the information. Findings from the focus groups showed a previous lack of awareness of these common conditions.

click here to read our evaluation of the awareness session.

We are currently working with other organisations to bring health and wellbeing awareness to prisoners.  We are also developing study reports from focus group sessions.


Useful Resources:


Click here for CLiNKS guide: Navigating the Health Landscape in England

Click here for CLiNKS guide: Rights and Complaints Procedure for Health and Care Services


Click here for list of supporting organistions on Recoop website

Click here for: Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales (Independent Investigations) Self Inflicted Deaths of Prisoners