A woman who has worked in prisons for 30 years has been recognised for her effort with a lifetime achievement award.

Lesley Winn, 67, from Hartlepool, was present at the Nepacs Ruth Cranfield awards at Emirates Riverside in Chester-le-Street on Thursday (September 14) to receive a lifetime achievement award for her work with victims of sexual assault, and sex offenders.

Mrs Winn, who has served 30 years in the Probation Service, first began her career as a students volunteering with Stockton's Rape Crisis and Victim Support team.

She accepted the award in front of a large turnout, including those working in the prison system and reformed offenders, and said she felt grateful for the recognition of what has been a "wonderful" career.

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The Northern Echo: Lesley WinnLesley Winn (Image: Sarah Caldecott)She said: "It's wonderful to receive, it makes me very grateful for what has been a wonderful career.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the time I've worked for the prison service.

"I'm very, very grateful and very honoured to receive this award, and it means quite a lot to me, an awful lot to me after being around so long, it reassures me that it's all been worthwhile.

"It's been very challenging, I've had a lot of very challenging roles working with a range of people with a range of problems that cause quite a serious risk to society.

"That's often placed me under a lot of emotional pressure, it's been time-consuming, tending to take over my life at times, but the thing that I remember most is the wonderful people I've met and worked with, everything I've learned, and how aware it's made me about the range of problems out there that lead people to commit crimes and the sort of help that they need."

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She said she was inspired to undertake her career after volunteering at Stockton's Rape Crisis and Victim Support team, and said it made her curious why people would commit crimes and harm people.

She added after starting her training, she became involved in social work and enjoyed working to help people change.

Speaking on the award, she said: "It's lovely, I'm so, so grateful and I feel very honoured."

Among the other awards handed out, prison officer Dean Storey, reformed offender Rob Binns, dependency and recovery navigator Chris Sopp, and the FREE Women's Group headed by Marie Warby, Peter Stobart and Michael Robins were all recognised at the awards.

The Northern Echo: Dean Storey Dean Storey (Image: Sarah Caldecott)Mr Storey was recognised for his tireless hours supporting young men who have committed violent crimes, regularly developing workshops and working to break down barries between rival gangs.

Mr Binns accepted his award for his Restorative Justice (RJ) work - a practice where offenders make amends with their previous victims - following his work advocating the power of RJ to offenders and victims alike.

His award was accepted by one of his former victims who he had reconciled with.

The Northern Echo: Chris SoppChris Sopp (Image: Sarah Caldecott)Mr Sopp was recognised for his efforts in helping men overcome their substance misuse issues for Ingeus CRS.

Marie Warby, Peter Stobart and Michael Robins were also recognised for their work supporting women facing domestic violence, addiction or mental health problems.

28 certificates of high commendation were also presented to the following individuals or teams, including: 

Katie Charalambous & Abby Hodgson, Newcastle Probation, for exceptional work with a challenging case.

Karen Carson, Sunderland Probation, for long-term support of a client.

Peterlee Probation Service Teams, a great example of locally provided services.

Alison Hopson, Durham Probation, Peterlee, for her work with Foreign National offenders.

Jacqueline Cartwright, Cleveland Probation Court Services, for her tenacious work, particularly during the pandemic.

Michael Wood & Felicity Penny, HMP Durham RC Chaplaincy, for their sensitive pastoral care and inclusivity.

Integrated Support Unit, HMP Durham for their support of both inmates and staff.

Separation & Care Unit, HMP Durham for their work in a sensitive and difficult area.

Linda Aston, Public Protection Administrator, HMP Northumberland for her 40 years of exemplary service.

Nicola Fawcett-Franey, Supervising Officer, HMPYOI Deerbolt for her commitment and passion.

Kate Shreeve, Spectrum Community Health CIC, HMPYOI Deerbolt, for a superb work ethic.

Leigh Frost & Spectrum Community Health Care, HMP Kirklevington Grange for supporting a patient with unique health challenges.

Hayley Strachan, IAG Advisor, People Plus, HMP Kirklevington Grange for caring and proactive support to prisoners.

Tina Riley, HMP Kirklevington Grange for work as a Shannon Trust Champion.

Beth Morris, Strategic Housing Specialist, HMPs Kirklevington Grange & Holme House, making Kirklevington the top-achieving prison for accommodation on release.

Veterans’ Unit, HMP Holme House, for excellent and innovative work.

Central Detail Team, HMP Holme House, tremendous support of staff from behind the scenes.

Derek Foster, HMP Holme House, for his 32 years in the prison service.

David Hammond, HMP Holme House, for his work as dementia lead.

Gemma Fawcett Smith, Tracey Forster, & Pam Jenkins for supporting neurodiversity, HMP Holme House.

Money Mindset Team, The Wise Group, for supporting males in custody with financial affairs.

Reconnected to Health partnership, North East Prisons, top-performing region for wellbeing outcomes: Emma Bate & Caroline Houghton, Rethink; Amy Levy, Humankind and Sarah Dodds, Spectrum CIC.

Ingeus Dependency and Recovery Service, for an outstanding partnership: Ruth Horn, Recovery Navigator and David Southern, Recovery Guide.

Darlington Council Future Pathways, for their continuingly evolving approaches to intervention with troubled young people: Darlington Council’s Young People’s Engagement and Justice Service, Civic Enforcement Service Future Pathways, and Darlington Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Amanda Lacey, chief executive of Nepacs, said: “The Nepacs Ruth Cranfield Awards highlight and celebrate examples of exceptional work by our partner colleagues in the North East in reducing the risk of reoffending.

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"Our aim is to celebrate good work and to ensure innovative practice and ideas are broadcast as widely as possible so that they can be replicated elsewhere.

“I would like to congratulate and thank everyone who was nominated or received an award for going above and beyond to make a difference to the lives of people involved in the criminal justice system who want to turn their lives around.

"We are particularly pleased to hear about the work of those with lived experience of the criminal justice system and how they are helping to make a difference for others in a similar situation. All of our winners and recipients of certificates have gone the extra mile to help support a positive future for their clients and offer hope for the future.”