UCLan researcher wins award for prisoners study
PhD student Flo awarded top regional health award
A gardening project for prisoners in Lancashire is improving mental health and reducing aggressive behaviour.
This was one of the early findings of research that was recognised with a top prize at the prestigious North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards.
The research was carried out by University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) PhD student Flo Seymour who studied the impact of a ‘Greener On the Outside: For Prisons’ or the GOOP programme, involving a combination of gardening, woodwork, healthy foods, budget management and team work.
Flo, 23, said: “Early indications are that the prisoners are calmer and have improved mental wellbeing; they are more open with each other and with staff; and there is a reduction in aggression. It also leads to qualifications which helps job prospects when they are released.”
"Flo’s exploratory stage research is indicating that there are real health and social benefits for prisoners who participate in horticulture."
GOOP is led by UCLan Senior Research Fellow Dr Michelle Baybutt who is supervising the research.
Dr Baybutt said: “Flo has worked extremely hard during this first stage of her doctoral programme and absolutely deserves this award. Flo’s exploratory stage research is indicating that there are real health and social benefits for prisoners who participate in horticulture. Importantly, this also has the potential to impact on the prison more broadly for example, prisoners who are more calm, less aggressive and have better mental health will contribute to a more stable prison environment which has got to be good for staff and other prisoners.”
Talking about her award win Flo added: “It feels incredibly humbling to win an award for what I see as really important relevant research. Although I thoroughly enjoy the PhD research experience it does understandably have its challenges, particularly with the nature of prison research, so to be awarded something for this is wonderful.
“I felt like I was just there to make up the numbers on the awards night so really did come as a shock. I would also like to thank all my supervisors and the prison staff for all their support.”
Three other PhD students from the University were also shortlisted for awards at the same event. Alison Seymour was also in the running in the Research for Wellbeing category while Naoimh McMahon and Heather Ohly were nominated for the Research Student of the Year Award.
"Although I thoroughly enjoy the PhD research experience it does understandably have its challenges, particularly with the nature of prison research, so to be awarded something for this is wonderful."
Flo was one of five winners from Lancashire at the North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards, which were jointly organised by the Innovation Agency; the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network North West Coast; and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North West Coast. The awards are handed out annually to celebrate success for the excellent work being undertaken across the region in clinical research and innovation in health.
Dr Liz Mear, Chief Executive of the Innovation Agency, said: “The North West Coast is rich in talent and ingenuity and our awards have thrown a light on outstanding individuals and organisations leading the way in research and innovation. These are people who go over and above what is asked of them, to make a real difference to people’s lives.”
A full list of winners and finalists can be found at www.nwcawards.co.uk.