Spectrum Scoop The Double At Our Health Heroes Awards 2024


Spectrum services have shone extra brightly this week, receiving two prestigious accolades at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 16 April.

Our Health Heroes Awards 2024 saw the healthcare team at HMP Preston win the ‘Best Healthcare Initiative in a Justice Setting’ award, whilst the North East’s RECONNECT project triumphed in the ‘Best Healthcare Workforce Collaboration’ category.

HMP Preston, where Spectrum led on healthcare services between April 2017 and March 2024, were recognised for their pioneering healthcare pathway; it was developed for young offenders in prison to improve rehabilitation and lower the chances of reoffending. This tailored approach was developed and first implemented in 2021, and was one of four examples of notable positive practice that His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) identified during a 2023 inspection of the prison.

Men aged 18-25 years old at the prison are reaping the benefits of the channel, which has improved health and enhanced life skills – supporting a more successful release and integration back into the community.

HMIP’s report of their unannounced visit to HMP Preston last year recognised Spectrum’s hard work and noted that Emma Beniston “the Head of Healthcare, was doing an outstanding job and standards had improved markedly… with a strong and proactive staff team working to improve outcomes for a population that had many difficulties with mental health and substance misuse.”

Emma, now Spectrum’s North West Cluster Manager, said: “Even in a high-turnover reception prison, healthcare services can make a huge difference. Our specific pathway for young adults helps to address their safety, health and rehabilitation. Prison is an opportunity to improve health inequalities and wider life outcomes. Alongside service improvements, we must provide people leaving prison with hope and remove the stigma of imprisonment that can hold them back.”

You can find out more about the under 25s pathway and the work which was undertaken by Spectrum at HMP Preston, by clicking here.

The North East RECONNECT project, delivered by a partnership of organisations working across seven prisons in the region, triumphed for their collaboration. The partnership is made up of Spectrum, Rethink, Humankind, Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, HMPPS (HMP Durham) and NHS England.

The RECONNECT hub, located in Durham city centre, was officially opened in June 2023. The facility on Old Elvet is the first of its kind, providing service users with a safe and accessible place to receive support with their health and wellbeing needs, after prison release.

The award recognised the positive impact that the project has had on healthcare services; it was applauded for making a significant contribution to care delivery through cross-agency and system-level working, to improve patient outcomes.

Since their launch, RECONNECT has supported nearly 1,300 individuals across the North East, with referrals into their service increasing by a staggering 176% between 2020 and 2022. They have also helped to spearhead positive change in the North East, with an incredible 59% of prison leavers in the region engaging with services within three weeks – compared to a national average of just 34%.

Dr Linda Harris OBE, Chief Executive at Spectrum, added, “The RECONNECT hub was the culmination of four years of work; four years of consistent expansion and change as we’ve come to understand more about the needs of people leaving the justice system. In the future, we want to see this hub become a flagship support space for prison-leavers across the whole of the North East. We are delighted that this award recognises all our hard work.”

Congratulations to all the winners at the Skills For Health ‘Our Health Heroes Awards 2024’, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.


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