NASC’s Returning Citizens scheme gained new supporters and greater prominence last week when the trade body was invited to deliver a presentation at HMP Belmarsh the most secure prison in the country.
NASC Training Officer, Henry Annafi, was joined by Lukasz Rozpiorski of PHD at the invitation of the Prison Employment Lead, Michelle Molver. Having been introduced to each other through a recent stakeholder event and following subsequent virtual meetings Michelle suggested arranging a visit to discuss career opportunities across the NASC membership and the wider scaffolding industry with a selected audience of interested prisoners.
Henry brought along VR headsets to provide the inmates with an immersive scaffolding experience. This was in fact the first time that a VR headset had been permitted in a HMP within the UK, making it a historic event for HMP Belmarsh, the prison service and of course, the NASC.
Lukasz relayed to the group his experience of being a former Returning Citizen himself and how scaffolding had been the vehicle for him to change his life, culminating in his current role as site manager.
Lukasz commented, “It was an amazing day and I’m so blessed to be able to share my experience with these lads. I can’t wait to do more of this work and I’m incredibly grateful to PHD for allowing this opportunity to change people’s lives.
The attendees were very enthusiastic and asked a lot of questions about the industry. The presentation culminated with each prisoner having an opportunity to wear the VR headset, which went down a storm.
Michelle said “I am still on cloud 9 after yesterday and so are all the lads. Everyone had such a great time (none more than me I think) and it was the first of many milestone moments we will achieve through working together.”
During a tour of the prison Henry and Lukasz met a number of staff, including the Governor, Jenny Louis, who warmly welcomed the possibility of future activities and events.
Henry Annafi said “It’s always a genuine honour and privilege to be given such opportunities and the fact that this was the first time an HMP has permitted VR headsets on site is humbling. It’s also a clear testament to the esteem in which Michelle is held and the amazing work she does. Our thanks go out to the guys as well and they a credit to Michelle, the prison and themselves. We can’t wait to go back”.
A job interview for the first Returning Citizen from Belmarsh will occur on Monday 14th November, at PHD Access.