Bob attended the West Mercia Probation Trust Annual High Sheriffs’ Awards for 2013 on Wednesday 27th November at Willowdene Farm, Chorley, Shropshire. Bob was joined by the High Sheriffs of Shropshire and Worcestershire, Mrs Diana Flint and Mr Nick Wentworth-Stanley. Bob was greeted by the Board Chair, Mr James Kelly who ran the event which, sadly, will be the last of its kind for the West Midlands area.
West Mercia Probation Trust has set up a partnership with Willowdene Farm to deliver a new Specified Activity Requirement (SAR) for offenders called ‘Care Farm Skills Training’. The SAR, available as a sentencing option from April 2013, provides offenders with approximately 175 hours (25 days) of contact spread over 14 weeks.
The partnership follows a successful pilot programme in 2011. The pilot trialled a structured day programme for offenders subject to Drug Rehabilitation Requirements. Based on 20 offenders who took part in the pilot 75% successfully completed the programme; 75% of starters did not re-offend in the evaluation period, which included five offenders who did not graduate but nonetheless did not reoffend. Willowdene also has a remarkable success rate with its own residential drug rehabilitation training programme.
The focus at Willowdene Farm is on skills enhancement, training and preparing offenders for employment. Offenders will gain a minimum of two nationally recognised qualifications, with potential to achieve up to six more and a further five centre approved qualifications. There is a whole range of training being offered at Willowdene, including animal husbandry, agriculture, forestry operations, woodwork, vehicle mechanics, welding and IT skills.
The Awards Ceremony is a recognition of the hard work and dedication by those working with the West Mercia Probation Trust over the past year. 1st Prize winner in the Individual Award was Amanda Fairclough and the runner up was Nina Kane. 1st Prize winner in the Team Award was the British Quality Foundation and the runner up was the N-Delius Group. Mr Nick Wentworth-Stanley welcomed everyone on behalf of all the High Sheriffs and Bob awarded the Team Award. The Individual Award was presented by Mr Nick Wentworth-Stanley and the Special Award was presented by Mrs Diana Flint to Mr David Chantler who is the CEO of the West Mercia Probation Trust. Mr Chantler has led the Trust since its inception in 2001. Unfortunately, The West Mercia Probation Trust will crease to exist from 31 March 2014 so this was a particularly important event.