Meet Tyla… Our Hidden Hero

The 29th of September 2021 marks #HiddenHeroesDay, where we celebrate and thank the often, unsung ‘Hidden Heroes’ across the custodial and community justice estate, who work tirelessly, especially during the covid-19 outbreak.  It’s an opportunity to show them that, while they may be largely hidden from public view, they’re not forgotten, and that the people who know them best, truly appreciate all they’ve done, and continue to do.

Despite their huge contribution and incredible efforts in supporting those within our justice system, Prison Officers, Probation Officers and Staff often go unnoticed, so to recognise the amazing work they have done and continue to do, we wanted to put in some of these amazing people in the spotlight.

Tyla, who works as a Prison Officer, is a Hidden Hero. We’ve asked Tyla a couple of questions about working for the Prison and Probation service:

Why did you become a Prison Officer?

I saw a recruitment advertisement on Facebook, and after some research, saw it as a new challenge, and a chance to boost my own interpersonal skills, whilst protecting the public.

Do you recall your first days in the role? What were your initial thoughts?

On my first day in the job, I saw a very graphic act of self harm. Something you’d see in a horror film. It knocked me for six, and showed me that the role is not something to be taken lightly. My next day went without hitch. This really shows you that each day is different, and a new challenge could be just moments away.

What is the best thing about being a Prison Officer?

When you build real rapport with a prisoner, such that you can talk in an open and friendly way. In this way, you feel like you’re getting through to them, which is important for building great professional relationships. So often we’re told ‘rehabilitation doesn’t happen in prisons”, but rehabilitation happens in small steps.

If in any way, how would you say your experiences in your role have changed you?

The role has changed me immensely. In some ways I have grown: my confidence has skyrocketed, I have learnt how to deal with difficult individuals and situations, and I can prioritise brilliantly. In other ways, I have been negatively affected, mainly noticed by those closest to me.

Tell us about your proudest moment during your role?

I identified a prisoner at risk, and despite keeping a close eye, found him barricaded in a cell, and non responsive. I was able to keep my head cool, force the door open, and cut him down. When he roused, we spoke for some time, as we had previously had some fantastic conversations, and some weeks later he left our care a much better man.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about a role within the sector?

This is not a job to take on lightly – its not just a job at all in fact. It will largely become your life, and most of your waking hours will be spent with very challenging individuals, but also many great colleagues who will begin to feel like family. You must be prepared to face a strange environment, a place unlike any other you’ve likely faced before. You must be willing to treat people, some of whom have committed terrible crimes, with respect and dignity. This role isn’t all about locking doors and fighting with prisoners – you need to be approachable, reasonable and pragmatic faced with a whole variety of difficult situations.

Show your support

To pay tribute to those hidden heroes working within prisons, probation and youth justice services across the, you can donate money to Mental Health UK.  With around one in four people experiencing significant mental health problems in their lifetime, the hidden heroes working within prisons, probation and youth services are coming together to raise money for this chosen charity https://mentalhealth-uk.org/donate.

Additionally, if you work in the sector, or would like to support those that do, you can take part in a #HiddenHeroes Charity Challenge!  Find out how here: https://www.hiddenheroes.uk/CharityChallenge.

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