Pact has been awarded the Longford Prize, an award which ‘recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities of humanity, courage, persistence, originality and commitment to diversity’.
The presentation took place as part of the annual Longford Lecture, given this year by Michael Palin on the subject of prisoners’ families. The award was presented to the charity’s Chief Executive, Andy Keen-Downs, by the Rt. Hon Michael Gove, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. The statement from the judging panel, which was read by Channel 4 News Presenter, Jon Snow: “Good research and good practice have both long shown that maintaining strong family ties is one of the key factors in offenders’ rehabilitation and avoidance of reoffending. And for that reason the judges want this year to celebrate the outstanding work of Pact and the thoughtful and wide-ranging support it provides for the parents, siblings and children of prisoners, who are often the hidden victims of crime.” Accepting the award, Andy Keen-Downs thanked the judging panel and said: “This award is for all the unsung heroes – Pact staff and volunteers, and the prison staff we work with – who work tirelessly to help families cope with the impact of a prison sentence – and through whose skill and dedication, time in custody is turned into time spent strengthening family relationships and looking forward to a fresh start. Prisoners leaving prison need ‘something to do, somewhere to live, and someone to love’. As has been shown time and again, the most effective resettlement agency is family. And so I am honoured to accept this award in particular on behalf of all the prisoners’ families who allow us into their lives.”