Yet another early start by my standards (I’d never have managed an E-shift!), to get to Bristol for 9:00, as I’m off from there to Eastwood Park for the afternoon. It is, however, another lovely day, if cold out early-doors, and I received a warm welcome (and a well-needed brew) when I got there.
The Officers highlighted violence reduction work, keywork, phones in cells, hanging baskets, and a decency & cleanliness drive, as contributing to significant improvements in safety, quality of life and staff-prisoner relations. They said staff took time to help prisoners, and noted strong relationships among staff. They felt the Governor & Dep were visible, approachable, supportive of staff, ready to ‘muck-in’ and quick to give praise. They appreciated the weekly newsletter (which includes thanks and messages of support) and especially the morning briefings for operational staff by the Gov/Dep, with tea and croissants!
The prisoners highlighted the recent introduction of phones in cells as a real positive in supporting family relations and, by alleviating stress on prisoners, in reducing violence and self-harm too. They rated the gym facilities and access highly, and praised gym staff for ‘going the extra mile’ (including coming in on rest days to ensure the gym remained open). NVQs in catering for prisoners working in the kitchens and the staff mess were another positive, as were the role of peer mentors in supporting and advising prisoners on reception.
Managers praised the resilience and skill of staff, agreed gym staff were ‘superb’ and noted strong relations across disciplines. They too highlighted the impact of decency, keywork and phones in cells, and valued weekly multi-disciplinary Safety Intervention Meetings on very challenging prisoners. On resettlement, they highlighted the role of the CRC and partners, and through-the-gate mentoring. They noted additional training and an extended role for SOs, freeing-up managers, and providing better progression opportunities for Band 3s. The No. 1 was praised for staff consultation and communication, empowering and inspiring managers and staff, supporting staff development, and creating a ‘We are Bristol’ ethos. They too valued the daily staff briefing (and the croissants!).