The Revd Shawn Verhey receives award 22013

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undefinedThe co-ordinating chaplain at Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institution has been commended for "dedication and skill in support of prisoners, their families and the victims of crime".

Shawn Verhey received a Butler Trust commendation for his work at the institution, which is located just south of Warrington, within our diocese. His work at Thorn Cross is supported by the Criminal Justice Group of our diocesan Committee for Social Responsibility.

An Anglican priest, Shawn has worked as a prison chaplain for 14 years, the last six of them at Thorn Cross. In that time he has been instrumental in the delivery of the Sycamore Tree restorative justice course, for which he has raised more than £30,000 over four years.

Shawn regularly gives up his own time to talk to community groups about the potential of restorative justice – an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community.

As well as co-ordinating a range of activities including study groups, drama groups and family visits, Shawn trains volunteers on working in the prison, including an on-going placement programme for the students at Chester University. He’s also established a strong family support programme and developed close links with the Halle Orchestra in Manchester to help boost offenders’ personal development through music.

Shawn’s work has been featured on radio and television. He is also described by colleagues as “an inspirational spiritual leader” whose “energy and vibrancy are contagious for staff, prisoners and visitors”.

The Butler Trust Awards were launched in 1985 in memory of the reforming former Home Secretary, Rab Butler. The awards recognise and celebrate outstanding practice by people working in prisons, youth justice, probation and criminal justice social work, throughout the UK.

Shawn was recommended for his commendation by the Governor HMP and YOI Thorn Cross, Mahala McGuffie and a former governor, John Platt. The presentation took place at Buckingham Palace on 11 March 2013. Shawn’s wife, Christine, accompanied him on the trip to London.

Shawn is pictured above receiving his commendation from the Princess Royal