Unlock, the leading independent charity for people with convictions, was last night awarded the prestigious Longford Prize 2016 for its work in countering the sometimes life-long disadvantage that can result from having a criminal record.
The Longford Prize is an annual award from the Longford Trust which ‘recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities of humanity, courage, persistence, originality and commitment to diversity’. The award was presented by the late Lord Longford’s daughter, Rachel Billington, as part of the 15th Longford Lecture, held in the Assembly Hall at Church House, Westminster. Unlock was joint-winner alongside The Shakespeare Trilogy and Juliet Lyon received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to those on the margins of society. This year’s lecture was given by Michael Gove MP, former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
In reaching its decision to award the prize to Unlock, the judging panel stated:
“This charity, founded in 1999, is run by people with convictions for the estimated 10.5 million people living with convictions in the UK. It has the invaluable aim of countering the sometimes life-long disadvantage that can result from having a criminal record. From persuading employers to adopt fairer recruitment practices to challenging the insurance industry to reduce inflated premiums for those with convictions, Unlock’s sustained, practical and highly effective work means that those it supports can successfully navigate the many obstacles on the path to rehabilitation and positive re-engagement with society.”
The award was presented to the charity’s co-directors, Julie Harmsworth and Christopher Stacey. Commenting on the award, Julie and Christopher said:
“In the last few years, we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of people that we help. Every day, we learn more and more about the barriers that people face because of their past criminal record. There remains significant stigma and discrimination towards people with convictions. Unlock has established itself as a respected, independent voice that speaks up and makes the case for change. Our success in changing people’s lives and the way they are treated by others, comes from steady determination and just getting on with the job of continually pushing at doors until they open. Winning the Longford Prize tells us we must be doing it right.”
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Notes to editors
- Unlock is an independent, award-winning charity for people with convictions which exists for two simple reasons. Firstly, Unlock assists people to move on positively with their lives by empowering them with information, advice and support to overcome the stigma of their previous convictions. Secondly, Unlock seeks to promote a fairer and more inclusive society by challenging discriminatory practices and promoting socially just alternatives.
- There are over 10.5 million people in the UK that have a criminal record.
- Unlock’s website is unlock.org.uk.
- The Longford Prize is an award which recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities of humanity, courage, persistence, originality and commitment to diversity’
- Details about the Longford Prize can be found at http://www.longfordtrust.org/longford_prize.php
- A video of the award ceremony is available here (the awards starts at about 6 minutes in)
- Read Co-director, Julie Harmsworth’s blog about the event.