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A Forestry worker from Dartmoor has received national recognition for his contribution to a highly successful scheme helping offenders from Dartmoor prison gain the valuable practical skills needed to secure employment on release.
Mark “Bud” Jeffrey was announced as the overall winner in the Excellence in Service Delivery category at this year’s Civil Service Diversity & Equality Awards held on Friday 4th November in London .
The partnership scheme between the Forestry Commission and HMP Dartmoor has been running since 2004 and is designed to deliver a mentored work experience programme and industry-recognised training to offenders from the prison’s rehabilitation unit.
The idea of the scheme is to give participants a wide range of forestry and land management skills over a 6 to 9 month period leading up to release. This training, consolidated through work experience, has greatly helped the offenders secure work on release. To date, 15 of the 25 offenders who completed the programme have secured full-time employment in the private sector after release from prison. The scheme has been academically reviewed by the Centre for Mental Health as a national exemplar of best practice and the role of Mark as mentor for the offenders was highlighted as a critical component for its success.
Mark has worked for the Forestry Commission since 1987 and despite having no previous experience of working with offenders, has used his people management and leadership skills to motivate the participants of the scheme and nurture their skills. With Mark’s guidance the programme has allowed participants to experience teamwork, develop valuable, vocational skills and boost their confidence and self-esteem.
The Civil Service Diversity & Equality Awards were designed to highlight the importance of diversity and equality to the UK civil service through its people, its policies and its delivery.
Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair said:
"I am hugely proud of what Mark has achieved. At a time when the importance of the forestry sector is on many people's radar we need to be increasing the number of skilled foresters to deliver its potential. This is an inspirational story of how a group of offenders with the help of some great people at the Forestry Commission have turned their lives around."
Terry Witton, Governor, HMP Dartmoor says:
“We are delighted that Mark has been recognised with this award. There is clear evidence that securing employment on release from prison significantly reduces the risk of reoffending. We have seen some real success stories with some of our ex-offenders and Mark has been a critical component in the successful delivery of this scheme.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
For further information please contact Kirstie Smith, Communications Manager, Forestry Commission on 01392 834249.