Third Sector Awards 2016: Charity of the Year - Winner: The Prison Radio Association

Third Sector Promotion Markel

This prestigious award goes to the charity or voluntary sector organisation that has had a truly exceptional year and whose recent achievements have attracted the admiration of the sector

What does it do?

The charity developed and runs National Prison Radio, the world’s first national radio station for prisoners, aiming to provide practical advice, support and inspirational content to prisoners.

Part of the rationale is to reduce reoffending rates, supporting prisoners through their sentences by informing them about services they can gain access to in prison and providing the motivation to help them to succeed after they are released.

The charity broadcasts programmes presented by prisoners to more than 100 prisons in England and Wales. More than a third of prisoners say they tune in every day.

Presenters work with the charity’s production staff in two prisons to make the programmes and the charity regularly visits prisons to record, with the aim of ensuring the station’s output is representative and provides as many prisoners as possible with the chance to appear on air.

What has it achieved?

Initiatives by the charity included a campaign in partnership with the National Careers Service, which encouraged prisoners to engage with careers advisers, develop their skills and prepare for employment after release. The partnership resulted in the launch of two new weekly National Prison Radio programmes with a focus on employment.

It has also run partnership campaigns focusing on subjects such as legal highs, violence in prisons, literacy, domestic abuse, bail accommodation, housing and employability.

It broadcast its first radio drama in September 2015. It was recorded in the BBC’s drama studios and on location at HMP Styal in Cheshire, using a cast made up of serving prisoners and professional actors.

The charity, which employs 16 people, says that it increased the average weekly listening hours per listener from 9.2 to 10.4 in 2015.

What did the judges say?

Caitlin Dean, chair of Pregnancy Sickness Support, said the charity was the "hands-down winner". She said: "What these guys are achieving on a very small budget is phenomenal and benefiting not just their target population but potentially society as a whole."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said the charity was "strong and effective in an area of high concern but often not in the limelight".

Highly commended



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