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Inspiring young prisoners recognised for humanitarian work by British Red Cross

Two young prisoners from Parc Prison in Bridgend have reached the finals of this year’s British Red Cross Humanitarian Awards.

Paul and Calvin (both 25 years) were shortlisted for the award because of their efforts to improve health and wellbeing among the prison community.

The young men have been involved in a Red Cross-led project called Parc Matters. The project aims to increase health awareness and improve first aid skills within the prison community. Having completed training in first aid, disease prevention and health promotion, they qualified to provide peer-to-peer learning to fellow prisoners.

Following their training, Calvin and Paul recognised that hand hygiene could be improved among the prisoners. They developed a workshop to teach correct handwashing techniques and educate their peers about how viruses such as flu spread quickly in close communities such as prisons.

Applying ultraviolet gel to fellow prisoners’ hands, the pair encouraged their peers to walk around the prison gym handling equipment. After a few minutes the lights were turned off and torches used to see how widely and quickly the gel had spread. This technique helped to visually demonstrate how poor hand hygiene allows germs and viruses to spread and the difference using correct handwashing techniques can make to health.

Cara Saunders, youth engagement and diversity manager at the Red Cross, said:

“I am over the moon that Paul and Calvin’s efforts have been recognised. They are playing an important educational and mentoring role within the prison and they’re committed to making a positive change in their community. These young people are an inspiration to everyone.” 

Head of residence at HMP Parc, Ian Coles, said:

“I am immensely proud of Paul and Calvin for their commitment to this project and showing great resourcefulness in bringing what they had learnt with the British Red Cross to the wider prison community. 

“Prisoners respond much better to advice, guidance and support from their peers and I hope that being shortlisted for this award will encourage Paul and Calvin to continue developing their knowledge and mentoring skills. Our partnership with the Red Cross has been very positive for the prisoners involved, providing real skills that will they can continue to develop in the community and I am delighted their achievements have been recognised.”

The Humanitarian Awards for children and young people span four categories, including first aid, fundraising, community action and volunteering. A coffee shop venture for homeless people and volunteers from Calais’s refugee camps are amongst this year’s other shortlisted entries.

The winners of the awards, which are sponsored by Canon, will be announced at a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday 15 November. The winners of the Canon Young Person’s Photography competition will also be announced.

Bob Pickles, head of corporate and government affairs at Canon UK, said:

“We're delighted to continue our partnership with the British Red Cross this year. Canon has been sponsoring the Humanitarian Citizen Awards since 2005, and every year, we’re inspired to see the many ways young people are making a difference to their communities. We congratulate all the nominees for their hard work and achievements.”