Empowering prisons to engage online

As part of the reform prisons programme, Involve UK were looking for help supporting Kirklevington Grange and Holme House prisons to work more openly and transparently online.

The Tees-Wear reform prisons were seeking guidance on how best to use social media to help them to:

  • develop more open and accountable forms of decision making
  • support prison staff to be more confident in listening actively
  • engage the local business community to identify opportunities

Researching conversations about Tees and Wear prisons, we quickly established that individual trusted voices would be more impactful than a corporate account in sharing prison communications. While staff working at the prison were enthusiastic and accommodating, there were some reservations about the impact of social media on their work. To allay these anxieties we ran several workshops with prison staff, including Ian Blakeman, Director of Tees & Wear Reform Prisons, to ensure they felt confident managing their own social media accounts.

Project Outcomes

The pilot staff members were great at recognising the importance of authenticity on social media and the importance of listening. Their work has helped the community to collaborate more closely with the two reform prisons and to better understand what happens inside.

Although Ian Blakeman has now moved onto a new role, he still uses his account in a professional capacity as HMPPS Director of Performance.