First held in 2020, #HiddenHeroesDay is a national day paying tribute to the #HiddenHeroes working in UK prisons, IRCs, probation and youth justice services.
On 29.09.20 prisons, probation offices and youth justice services up and down the country celebrated Thank you #HiddenHeroesDay, in tribute to the outstanding service of the #HiddenHeroes working in our prisons, IRCs, probation and youth justice services, especially during the covid-19 outbreak. They were joined on the day by Butler Trust Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, at a special event at HMP Bullingdon.
Zoe Ball fired the starting gun on the first national #HiddenHeroesDay with a shoutout on her Radio 2 Breakfast Show – and we were off and running…
#HiddenHeroesDay was a chance for people to pay tribute to the usually unsung #HiddenHeroes who work in prisons, IRCs, probation and youth justice across the UK. And people grabbed the chance – literally hundreds of tweets would pour in all day from each corner of the Kingdom.
The Scottish Government’s Justice Minister Humza Yousaf sent support, as did Northern Ireland’s Minister of Justice Naomi Long, and the Minister of State for Prisons and Probation in England & Wales, Lucy Frazer. There was also a special thankyou – diolch – sent out across Wales, alongside proud tweets from Jo Farrar, CEO of HMPPS, the Head of Northern Ireland’s Prison Service Ronnie Armour, the Youth Justice Board’s Chair Keith Fraser, HMI Probation’s Chief Inspector Justin Russell, the National Chair and General Secretary of the POA, and the Association of YOT Managers.
Meanwhile, the Butler Trust’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, was at HMP Bullingdon, making her third of five #HiddenHeroes visits to prisons in six weeks. After touring the jail, she addressed staff, outside visits, telling them:
“It’s a real pleasure to be here today, in the Butler Trust 35th Anniversary year, to share in your celebrations of the first national Hidden Heroes Day, in recognition of all that you and your colleagues do, on behalf of both the people in your care, and the public you serve so admirably.”
To further mark the occasion, Her Royal Highness unveiled the #HiddenHeroes artwork the Butler Trust had commissioned from artist and recent Award Winner, Nikki Dennington. Framed copies of her work, as well as flags, had been distributed throughout the estate – and could be seen proudly displayed in photographs and videos shared across social media during the day.
Using the hashtag #HiddenHeroesDay, we also heard from prisons and IRCs, local probation offices, Approved Premises and Community Payback Teams, and youth justice services, in each nation. There were enthusiastic messages, too, from a wide range of voluntary sector agencies and suppliers, as well as colleagues, families, and friends.
In a video tribute to staff, Duncan Craig OBE, of the charity Survivors Manchester, spoke for many:
“It’s such an honour to be able to have a group of people that you can absolutely call heroes in your life and as your colleagues.”
Beyond all the messages of thanks, managers up and down the country paid tribute to their staff with their own #HiddenHeroesDay events. There were speeches, flags were flown, and pictures unveiled – and the No. 1 at HMP Huntercombe was one of a number to send personalised cards to every member of staff. There was a chocolate treasure hunt, charity cake sales and raffles, quizzes, games, and ‘Bake Offs’ – HMP & YOI Bronzefield even had a trumpet player! Some canny prisons had secured local donations for their events, and HMP Pentonville landed some raffle prizes from Arsenal and one of their former goalkeepers, Bob Wilson. There were specially-produced badges, lanyards, mugs and pens to mark the occasion too – and lots, and lots of food. HMP Peterborough had popcorn, a sweetie cart and a chocolate fountain, and there were bacon-butties for breakfast, lunches and teas, cakes, biscuits, curries, pizzas, cookies, chocolates, snack packs, and ‘goody-bags’ galore.
Read just a handful of the messages and tweets collected on Twitter at @HiddenHeroesDay and on the HiddenHeroes.uk message board and it becomes very clear that, to those in the know, these heroes aren’t really hidden – and the feelings of mutual support, deeply felt gratitude, and sheer pride among colleagues across this sector is truly remarkable.
And Lexi Rayner, an Officer at Bullingdon, summed up what #HiddenHeroesDay meant to her and her colleagues:
“To have a day where people have gone, ‘we see you, you are not forgotten, this is for you’, it’s wonderful.”
The breadth and depth of the response across the UK can be seen from the (literally) hundreds of tweets posted throughout the day. We’ve collected as many as we could find together on @HiddenHeroesDay.
The Princess Royal, Archbishop of Canterbury and others
HM Prison and Probation Service
Justin Russell, HMI Probation
Keith Fraser, YJB Chair
Naomi Long, NI Justice Minister
Humza Yousaf, Scottish Justice Secretary
HMP Drake Hall
Newbold Revel PSC
NPS Wigan & Bolton
NPS Yorks & Humber
HMP Wormwood Scrubs