“Who knew that a chance meeting back in July 2017 would lead to the start of an amazing, collaborative initiative to help the rehabilitation of inmates at Parc Prison in Bridgend, Wales?
On that particular day, Jason Weetman (Lineside Assessor for Materials Recovery) was approached by Dave Crowther (Rail Safety Training Specialist, Absolute), who was enquiring about some redundant assets he’d spotted on the lineside. Dave’s wife, Heidi, is a Senior Regimes Manager at Parc Prison, with responsibility for the prison’s rehabilitation programmes. These programmes teach inmates new skills, which help them find jobs and prevent them re-offending after release. Dave explained that track materials could be used to train the inmates on safety, fixing, welding and help them understand the different components of the railway.
Jason’s colleague, Victoria Patterson (Business Support Specialist, Materials Recovery) contacted Carly Keen (Business Support Specialist, Supply Chain) who took care of the gifting process and advised on how to proceed further with this request.
Dave supplied Jason with a wish list of materials, which, to everyone’s surprise, was harder to pull together than first envisaged. A visit to Westbury Materials Handling Depot, hosted by Matt Theobold (Team Leader) resulted in recovering 60% of the wish list. Fortunately at this point, several of Jason’s customers and colleagues offered to help and had already started tracking down the other materials.
Peri Shipman (Project Manager Barking Project), Lewis Pendle (Signal Contracts Manager), Dave Shambrook (Pod Track PWay Lead) and his team spent time meticulously dismantling and removing an S&C turn-out from a collection in Barking. Roger Jackson Haulage was used for transporting the materials to Westbury and then eventually onto Parc Prison. As well as providing a great haulage service, they also helped solve many of the logistical problems the team faced. Richard Parry (Project Interface Co-ordinator) was a tremendous support, not only in finding materials but also by providing technical advice, which enabled the team to complete the material list for the project to go ahead.
The materials were stored at Westbury and handled with great care by the whole team, knowing they were going to be re-used in the training programme, before being transported to the prison. Going above and beyond to ensure this happened were Matt Theobold, Carlos Gasper (Machine Operator) and Judy Schols (Production Assistant).
The materials were delivered to Parc Prison at the beginning of July 2019. On 23rd August, Jason, Victoria and Patricia Willette (Contracts Assistant for Material Recovery) were invited to the prison to see the finished result and were very impressed; the set up of the track/sleepers/ballast is very realistic and perfect for training. The official opening ceremony is on 5th November, which many members of the team are looking forward to attending.
None of this would have happened without the tremendous collaborative approach and can-do attitude of the team. As a minimum, it costs £70,000 per year to keep one person in prison for a year; if this project prevents just one person from falling back onto the wrong path, then gifting these materials – which carry a value of £6,000 – will prove priceless.“