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Buddy Scheme highlighted as example of good practice

Thursday, October 6th 2016 - RECOOP

We highlight here the Foreword of this publication, written by James Bullion, Chair ADASS Care and Justice Network and Michael Spurr, CEO, National Offender Management Service:

“HM Prison Service holds those committed by the courts.  Our duty is to look after them with humanity – and to help them to lead good and positive lives. Although by its nature imprisonment separates individuals from the rest of society, those in prison deserve the same health and personal care as their fellow citizens. By bringing prisoners under the Care Act 2014 a powerful statement has been made about the need to provide appropriate and proper care for all those in our society. In a landmark speech earlier this year, David Cameron said:

“We need a prison system that doesn’t see prisoners as simply liabilities to be managed, but instead as potential assets to be harnessed”.

That was the underlying assumption of the conference, organised by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care, on 21 April 2016 that has given rise to this publication. We came together to talk about how prisoners themselves might provide support to fellow prisoners who need social care. We heard from social care staff, prison officers, voluntary organisations and two inspiring individuals with personal experience of life in prison about how ‘peer to peer’ support schemes can bring huge benefits, not only to those receiving support, but also to those giving it. We heard from a small number of areas where innovative peer to peer schemes have already been set up to provide this support. We also heard the amazing story of how the International Committee of the Red Cross, through a peer support project, is transforming the health of prisoners in Ireland.

This publication brings together the themes discussed at the conference. It is intended as a practical resource for those wishing to set up a peer support scheme for social care, with a summary of the legislative background, case studies, practical suggestions from lessons learned and links to further information.

One very important message from our discussions is that a peer scheme to support people in prison is most emphatically not a way of providing care on the cheap. Nor can it substitute for the professional social care that local authorities are now required to provide in prisons on a similar basis to care provided in the community. A peer support scheme needs investment of time and resources in setting up, selecting peers, training, monitoring and ongoing support. If it gets this investment, it will reap rewards – perhaps surprising rewards – for those receiving care and for the peers providing it. We believe this is a worthwhile investment. We hope this publication makes a useful contribution to the work of local authorities with prisons within their boundaries”.

During 2014 RECOOP worked with Devon County Council, Dorset Healthcare Trust and three Prisons in Devon: Exeter, Dartmoor and Channings Wood, to develop a Prisoner Buddy Support Worker Training Programme.

The Programme is designed to equip prisoners to support other prisoners with health and social care needs and with the day to day challenges they face within an often very difficult environment.

The Buddy Support Worker role is a key component of the Care Act service provision and is designed to actively support individuals (who have been assessed for social care needs) to be as independent as possible within the regime of the prison system.

The intention is that through supporting these individuals, there can be an element of prevention (wherever possible) in any further decline in the individual’s ability or health and social care needs.

A full copy of the report can be viewed from this page.

For further information please contact:  info@recoop.org.uk

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