Award for former Glyndwr student who had transformed lives across the region
A criminology student who has helped to transform lives across the region has been announced as the winner of Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Owain Glyndwr Society Alumni prize.
The prize is given each year to a graduate from the university who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution – with a contribution to the promotion of learning and education among the key categories for the award.
Winner Lisa Owen, from Denbighshire, was put forward for the work she has carried out since her graduation with first the Prison Advice Care Trust and then the St Giles Trust – delivering courses and working with people as peers to develop their skills and self-belief.
Her work in both roles has transformed lives across the region – and saw her secure the Owain Glyndwr Society Alumni prize and join a roll of previous winners celebrated and commemorated at the university.
The prize is usually given at Glyndwr’s Graduation ceremony, but with 2020’s ceremonies presently on hold because of the Coronavirus pandemic, Lisa instead met with Wrexham Glyndwr University Vice-Chancellor Maria Hinfelaar one-on-one to receive her award.
Lisa’s journey to her current career began after she applied to study a BA (Hons) in Criminology and Criminal Justice – and despite initial reservations about returning to study as a mum of three, she found the welcoming atmosphere at Glyndwr a real boost to her studies.
“I have always had an interest in the reasons behind criminal behaviour and the way we react as a society,” she said.
“I have a real interest in behaviour and the theories behind this and having worked with children and young people in a variety of settings I decided I wanted to extend my knowledge.
“I spoke to a student who was studying at the time who told me of all the opportunities the course had opened for her and decided I would apply.
“I loved every second. From the minute I walked in the door on my first day all full of nerves, wondering was this the right thing – especially as an older student – right up until to the day I graduated.
“I was given the opportunity to develop and get involved, the subjects were all interesting and provided me with an opportunity to open my mind and learn.”
Shortly before completing her course, Lisa secured the first of two roles in which she would work to boost the lives of people across Wales, when she was offered a role working at HMP Berwyn.
She said: “I was offered a job in the prison, working with families and prison residents.
“My role started as a play specialist – which combined my previous knowledge around families, children, and child development with my Criminology and Criminal Justice degree.
“I then moved from the play specialist role into a group facilitator role, providing courses combined with visits for the men attending. This enabled me to provide education within the prison around relationships, child development and early literacy.”
Lisa’s role at HMP Berwyn was the first of two cited in the nomination for her award.
Dr Caroline Hughes, Associate Dean for Student Engagement in Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, said: “Lisa’s work with people in prison and their families at HMP Berwyn has been an important rehabilitation tool.
“She supported the relationship between the men and their children, focusing on learning and education – both of which are key factors, which have been identified in research as key to rehabilitation.”
After working for two years as a group facilitator, Lisa moved on to work with St Giles as a trainer assessor.
Lisa’s work with St Giles was cited as crucial by the Owain Glyndwr Society award assessors – and Dr Hughes believes the transformational impact it has had on people across North Wales is invaluable.
She said: “This programme is unique in its specific focus on the positives that come from recognising the benefits of lived experience.
“Lisa’s work helps people use their experiences to benefit not only their own future – but the future of others who may be able to relate to them because they face the same or similar challenges in their own lives.
“Often, this will be the first time in their lives they have been offered an interview and opportunity to use their past experiences in a positive way.
“It offers someone who may have faced a life of poor education, crime and addiction the opportunity to develop themselves. They gain not only a qualification, but new colleagues, friends, skills and paid employment.
“That’s certainly the key to a rehabilitated life style – where the individual feels they fit in and they contribute to society.”
This commitment to rehabilitation and education meant judges for this year’s award agreed Lisa more than met the prize’s criteria and demonstrated a true commitment to the transformational power of education.
She said: “I was blown away at just being nominated. I never thought I would win, there is some incredible work being done out there and to be recognised by the staff at Glyndwr is just incredible.
“I am so grateful, and yet humble – because I am just doing something I love and can do because of the role I am in.”
Dr Hughes added: “Lisa’s story shows the strength of education.
“Her studies at Glyndwr have not only transformed her own life, but through her dedication, commitment, and skill, they have changed the lives of many, many more people across our region for the better.
“Lisa is a very worthy winner of this year’s Owain Glyndwr Society prize.”
More information about studying BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice at Wrexham Glyndwr University can be found here.
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