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Service Users' Voices

Buddy Support Worker Training Programme

Head of Adult Care Operations & Health, Devon County Council

"Devon County Council (DCC) believes that the Devon Buddy model is critical to the implement-ation of new Care Act responsibilities for local government in a prison setting.  The support and co-ordination of this model needs to be provided to ensure it is fully bedded into prison practice, reducing the costs associated with deteriorating health and care needs.

The Buddy model in Devon, developed through the collaborative work between NOMS, NHS, DCC and RECOOP, is an example of good   practice that could be rolled out wider across   the region and estate. This good practice model was showcased at a national ADASS conference in London in 2016.

RECOOP has been instrumental in the success as it has brought extensive experience, expertise and wide ranging links within local prisons and wider communities. Coordinating and delivery of the buddies training and support is pivotal. 

RECOOP has been providing informal prison buddy training and support in Devon prisons since 2010.  With the introduction of the Care Act this work became formalised in 2015 when RECOOP secured a contract through DCC to develop and deliver a Buddy training and support service across the Devon prison cluster.

The partnership approach from RECOOP has brought informed and innovative solutions which have enabled DCC to deliver its responsibilities in relation to the Care Act.” 

Prison Governor

"Liz (RECOOP) has been instrumental in providing training and support which would be extremely difficult to match if we were to provide the same service. Current operational difficulties would make it impossible to provide the same level of service. F Wing and other prisoners, who do not meet the criteria for Social Care, benefit greatly from the Buddy role, providing preventative support which, if left unchecked, would result in additional social care needs. The Buddy system and training give us assurance that the relevant PSIs, prisoners assisting other prisoners, are fully complaint."

Buddy Worker – HMP Exeter

Working as a Buddy here at HMP Exeter has been a brilliant experience and one that I would and will recommend to everyone.

I have been in prison for more than two decades and worked within the prison estate in many different roles during my time inside.  Working as a Buddy has changed my life and in doing so has given me a new lease of life which I never thought possible. 

Being able to help other prisoners, many who have very complex needs, disabilities and illnesses, has given me so much more from life that I never knew existed.  To be fulfilled in this way gets me out of bed in the morning with a head and heart full of purpose and eager to start the day.

The effect that I have on my clients daily lives is so important that I can’t not go to work.  All those little things that able-bodied prisoners take for granted, they just can’t do these simple daily tasks that I help with, cost me nothing, yet how they make me feel is priceless.

I feel valued for the first time in my life and now have purpose to the long days in here.  I used to feel a bit sorry for myself, a little worthless and more than a little depressed on the occasional day, but working as a Buddy has helped me put everything back in perspective, it’s given me Life!  I never knew that I could feel this good about myself just by helping others.  Thank you”.

Prison Officer – Social Care Wing:

  • RECOOP is well-placed to offer this support owing to their expert knowledge of working with older  prisoners and national influence.
  • Buddy Training should be widely publicised to encourage other prisons to take up this good practice.
  • Outside agencies working on the Wings reduces the need for specialised Social Care Wings for  medium to lower level support.
  • Establishing the Buddy Support Worker role would avoid reverting back to the informal situation which could lead to people being taken advantage of, especially the more vulnerable.

Example:  Prisoner in Channings Wood had stroke and was moved to F wing HMP Exeter.  He was given appropriate Buddy support and became well enough to return to Channings Wood.  He now has a Buddy offering a consistent standard of support. 

DCC Social Worker:

  • RECOOP has expertise in this field with  a keen knowledge of how they work and is in a position to identify best practice within the regime.
  • It helps to meet the Duty of Care needs within prisons, provides training and employment, provides an equable service to the community and saves prisons money.
  • The Buddy Support Training programme takes the pressure off the Social Worker, providing a constant approach and ensures training is done to an acceptable standard.
  • Without such a Programme, informal  support would be offered with no safeguarding.



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Wednesday, October 16th 2019
In July, RECOOP was contacted by The Society of Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention in Hong Kong (SRACP), a government recognised charitable organisation established in 1957.  SRACP provides a rehabilitation service for offenders and discharged prison...
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