An Evening of Achievement with HACRO

Jun 1, 2017

An Evening of Achievement with HACRO: A night to be remembered for Lots of Good Reasons – at least 17 in fact!

An Evening Achievement. The HACRO Achievement Awards celebrated the significant achievement of some ex-offenders who have succeeded in turning their lives around and who have become law-abiding, contributing members of our community in a variety of roles.

Over 150 people attended this inaugural event on 31st May 2017, which was held at The Council Chambers,Welwyn Hatfield,The Campus, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6AE.

The evening demonstrated some incredible stories of achievement and commitment by ex- offenders as well as HACRO Volunteers and workers.

Full details of the awards categories,the sponsors and case studies about the award winners are included in the following pages of this press release:

An Evening of Achievement with HACRO

Local companies and personal sponsors included

Will Hobhouse – High Sheriff of Hertfordshire
Yasmin Batliwala – President of HACRO
Veolia – The UK Leader in Environmental Solutions
McMullen & Sons – A local brewery supporting employment of ex- offenders
Emmaus,St. Albans – A local Homeless Charity
The Stefanou Foundation – A Foundation with a Healthy Relationships Programme
Rotary Clubs – Harpenden, St. Albans Priory and Hatfield
HMP The Mount – A category C training and resettlement prison

Entertainment on the evening was supplied by Choirs Beating Time – a Charity that runs singing groups in prisons – Conductor for the evening was Joe Shaw.

For more information about HACRO and what we do,to view photographs of the event and to obtain more information or arrange a meeting with our award winners  or Sponsors, please visit our website and download the evening programme. Call our offices on 01727 854727 or email


“HACRO believes in giving people second chances. Life can be very hard and it is very easy for people to take a wrong turning in life. For some it is harder to turn their lives around than it is for others.There are many reasons why this is the case; there are many good reasons, (often to do with something as simple as circumstance), why this is so. If someone has become addicted to drugs, got in with the wrong crowd or isn’t able to get a job because of their criminal record, the odds are stacked heavily against them.” She went on to say “It takes courage, motivation and commitment to change a way of life. For many, if not for most, it is not a short or straightforward path.”

Yasmin Batilwala / President of HACRO

“It was a real privilege to present the HACRO awards last night. Everyone deserves a second chance and the award winners shared their life stories and what they have done to move ahead towards rewarding and fruitful lives. All the winners deserve our praise and admiration”.

High Sheriff of Hertfordshire

“The HACRO awards celebrates service users in the Criminal Justice System who have overcome significant obstacles and challenges to get their lives back on track. This is an enormous achievement and a rare opportunity for positive changes to be acknowledged and celebrated. Each winner’s story is an inspiration to others who find themselves facing similar adversity such as: addiction, homelessness, unemployment or social exclusion. The HACRO Award winners are role models for us all”.

Neeve Bishop / Head of Hertfordshire LDU / National Probation Service


HACRO Achievement Awards Categories

HACRO’s VISION is a world in which everyone on the wrong side of the law has the chance to turn their lives around and lead a life fully contributing to society.

Our MISSION is to offer support for offenders, potential offenders and their families to manage positive change in their lives; to engage with influential partners in the community of Hertfordshire and neighbouring counties; and work to establish a range of educational and training initiatives with a focus on gaps in provision.

  1. SUCCEEDING IN EMPLOYMENT – Sponsored by McMullen &Sons

 McMullen & Sons have been providing employment opportunities for 190 years in Hertfordshire and are in ongoing discussions with HACRO about employment opportunites for ex offenders and are delighted to support this event.

This Award Winner was on the HACRO Leaving Prison Behind project for prolific offenders and had more than one spell in prison before getting a job with Blue Sky. He recently started a 14 week placement with Groundwork and has been advised that there could be a new opportunity with Tarmac in the near future. He has been out of trouble now for 4 years and has been removed from the prolific offenders list- We wish him continued success!

  1. OVERCOMING ADDICTION – A Category with Six Award Winners

The First two Award Winners were sponsored by Veolia

A company recognised as the leader in environmental solutions in the UK, providing a comprehensive range of waste, water and energy management services. Veolia’s commitment is to ensure that 10%of their workforce comes from marginalised groups. They have supported over 200 ex- offenders by providing paid placements in recent years.

The First Winner was released from custody in August 2016 and in spite of huge struggles with previous orders, license periods and a period of homelessness, he has managed to remain drug free and find privately rented accommodation. He continues to engage with supervision and shows a real desire to maintain the changes he has made.

The Second Winner served his time in prison for offences whilst under the influence of drugs. Upon release, he approached Stevenage Borough council and with help from No More Service he has gone from being homeless and using drugs to managing his own tenancy, staying abstinent from drugs and spending time with his family and being a good father to his children.


The Third Award was sponsored by The Stefanou Foundation

which launched The Healthy Relationships: Healthy Baby programme in 2015, an initiative which aims to break the cycle of domestic abuse and create the conditions for change & resilience in order to give babies the best start in life.

This Winner was referred to a recovery and housing worker from Supporting Herts whilst suffering depression and alcohol abuse. He has been fighting hard to pay off his mortgage arrears and after many setbacks, he has just passed his HGV2 theory and practical tests. He embraces the support he has received and just needs a chance to enter into a job using his recently obtained driving qualifications

The Fourth Award was sponsored byThe Rotary Club of St. Albans Priory a breakfast club which raises thousands of pounds for community projects and local charities as well as supplying volunteers in educational and business areas.

This Winner has shown great commitment to her recovery from substance abuse and a life of crime. She now facilitates at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and has become a sponsor to others whilst living in supported accommodation for the past 6 months.


The Fifth Award was sponsored by Harpenden Village Rotary Club

With 50 members and regular meetings each Wednesday they get actively involved in raising funds in the community through Rotary in Harpenden. Their flagship event is the Classics On The Common which attracts thousands of visitors each year to enable local, national and international charities to benefit from the event.

The Winner of this award was a 33 year old man with an entrenched class A drug addiction, who after being accepted into the C2 programme for prolific offenders has engaged with Police, Probation and Drug services and over 19 months has stopped misusing all controlled drugs and is attending counselling and key work sessions to continually reduce his medication to a level where he hopes to not require any.

The Sixth Award was sponsored by Hatfield Rotary Club

They look to support local charities and businesses around the Hatfield area. Recently they have raised funds to install a defibrillator in the Jim Macdonald centre, Hilltop, Hatfield. They also hold an annual walk event to raise money for local causes and charities.

This Award Winner completed the Building Better Relationships course in March 2017. His Tutor stated an excellent attendance record and contribution in class sessions with insight and thought. With an approach which he states ‘ is about knowing that you cannot change the past but you can learn from it…’, this award winner is now a meet and greet volunteer for RAPT and meets clients upon relase from prison and accompanies them to appointments on their days of release.

3.There were Three GRIT AWARD Winners  sponsored by VEOLIA

The First Winner was released from Custody a year ago at 21 years of age and since then has been committed to finding and sustaining employment. After the various temporary work contracts which are so often those offered to ex – offenders, he has  now been informed that his current employers have offered him a a permanent contract.

The Second Winner came into The Westminster Drug  Project recovery house in March 2016. After good engagement with recovery services and starting voluntary work, he began a music production engineers workshop and was given funding to progress. He now has full custody of his daughter and is living in council accommodation awaiting a secure tenancy agreement.

The Third Winner was a Prolific and persistent offender (PPO). Since working with his current officer from September 2015, family bereavements, drugs and alcohol problems have been set backs, but working at a veterinary school has helped him enormously and he was asked back by them to work with and help others, he has remained crime free since April 2016.

4.There were two Winners in the PARTNERSHIP AWARDS sponsored by HACRO

Colin Smith

Colin is a teacher turned successful businessman, who runs his own coffee company. He is also a past President of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, a recognised trade body that runs accredited training.

Colin has travelled to all the coffee growing areas of the world and has a deep knowledge and enthusiasm for all things to do with coffee.

Together with HACRO, Colin has been managing barista training in the Visits Hall coffee bars at HMP The Mount and HMP Bedford and over the last four years has personally trained 52 baristas in the prisons.

On release, these men, with their SCAE training certificates, now have a better chance of getting employment in the coffee shop industry.

Digswell Nurseries (St.John of God Hospitalier)

It is now 4 years since we started to work with Digswell and have seen so many of our project attendees gain horticultural and building trade qualifications as a result of the time and space granted to us at these great facilities. Garden furniture making and the creation of polytunnels are just two of the activities undertaken by the HACRO Leaving Prison Behind project attendees.

5.There were Two Winners in VOLUNTEERING at HMP The Mount  sponsored by HACRO

Marion Peacock– ‘A very committed volunteer with a warm , welcoming manner, much appreciated by all the visitors in The Visitor Centre at The Mount, who cheerfully gives so much of herself and her time to The Visitors Centre- one of the best who often does so many extra duites’.

Barbara Graham- ‘A supportive and willing volunteer who is always there to do extra sessions in the Visitors centre when called upon’

6.The Emmaus SOLIDARITY AWARD sponsored by Emmaus, St. Albans

Emmaus is a homeless charity providing up to 35 homeless people with a safe home environment and the opportunity to work. Emmaus collects furniture and other household items which are recycled, restored and resold to fund the community and enable people to move on from homelessness. They provide skilled work and training to further support their Companions.

The Winner of this award began with volunteering in the Emmaus social enterprise and in the vans delivering and collecting donated furniture. He is now employed by Emmaus on a part time basis as a van driver. He is also  very useful to Emmaus in the provision of his pest control services and some nifty football skills! He is running in the Edinburgh 10k run in aid of Emmaus.

Along with his great smile and spirit, it makes him this years Emmaus Solidarity Award winner.

7.The ABOVE and BEYOND Award sponsored by HACRO

The Winner of this award started breaking into houses as a teenager and moved into drug dealing. He and his gang took to armed robbery to support their activities. However, his crimes began to hit home ‘I never hurt anyone but I scared a lot of people and that’s unforgivable’.

After being caught and put in prison, he knew that this would be a turning point for him.

On release he tried desperately to get a job, but his criminal record kept counting against him until he started to work with Groundwork- legitimacy, security and an honest way of making a living all started to come together for him.

He is driven by a passion to help ex- offenders. Hard working, straight talking, quick-witted, he breaks down barriers and creates trust. His courage, energy and tenacity in building the Blue Sky organisation has made him a role model for anyone leaving prison. He has touched the lives of 100’s of ex offenders and their families.

8.The Presidents Special Recognition Award for Achievement sponsored by Yasmin Batliwala, President of HACRO

Having started using drugs at  a very young age and struggling at school due to his unknowingly suffering from ADHD and dyslexia, the winner of this award decided to turn his life around after a series of encounters with the police, which left him precariously close to prison.

In his early 20’s he decide to get himself clean and take himself off drugs permanently. With the support of the Prince’s Trust, having trained as a SOVA volunteer, he set up his own social enterprise Time 2 Change and managed on a self employed basis, the HACRO Leaving Prison Behind project.

In 2012 he received a Prince’s Trust Flying Start award and in 2014 became a Prince’s Trust Ambassador.

In 2016, he was appointed as a full time employee of HACRO running the HCC STRIVE initiative working with 27 organisations across Hertfordshire in the Building Better Opportunities programme.