Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Lady Edwina Grosvenor for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Edwina Grosvenor is the second daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Westminster, born and brought up by her energetic and socially aware parents in Cheshire and one of four children who were destined from birth to live an extraordinary life. The Duke of Westminster had a special connection with this University, he too was a recipient of a Fellowship and delivered one of our renowned Roscoe lectures on the theme of volunteering.
It is certainly part of her late father’s legacy that she has inherited a passion to do something extraordinary with her innate talent for leadership and innovation. It is perhaps even more extraordinary that she has chosen to focus on prison reform.
She can trace this focus with pinpoint accuracy to a moment in her early teens, when her parents took her to visit a drug rehabilitation centre on Hope Street in Liverpool so that she could hear first-hand of the devastating and debilitating impact of drugs. Their objective was clearly to ensure that drugs never became part of her life and in that, they certainly succeeded.
Edwina’s first and immediate insight, even at such a young age, was the link between drugs and crime, and so began the quest for a more in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system and of the people, the men and women, who are trying to survive within the system.
Edwina studied Criminology and Sociology at Northumbria University completing a dissertation on children being reared in prisons, and graduated in 2005. A period spent as a support worker at Styal Prison in Manchester and then advising James Jones, when he was Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop for Prisoners in the House of Lords fully immersed her in criminal justice system in this country.
This zeal to find ways to help reform and rehabilitate the system has become tangible through two specific initiatives. Edwina founded One Small Thing, a charity working with prisoners and staff in female prisons and in the community. The charity aims to encourage a better understanding of trauma in the prison system and how to deal with it most effectively. It’s about training staff in prisons to recognise and deal with behaviours that are borne out of psychological trauma and giving them the skills to de-escalate potentially violent situations.
The second innovation is the Clink Restaurant chain, which trains prisoners to work in the catering industry. Four large fine dining restaurants which have been built in prisons around the UK and are entirely staffed by offenders in order to train them for an industry when they are released. This has proved to be an enormous success in reducing reoffending and the Clink has a 90% success rate with its graduates.
We often talk about care and compassion in society but it takes courage to walk the talk. Edwina does this every day with her quest to bring real and lasting reform to the UK prison system. To be able to see offenders as people and to look beyond their current situation to create an environment for people to aspire to a better life is the very definition of good citizenship. Edwina is a strong and forceful advocate for society’s hidden people and she is using her position as a platform to bring about real change.
And so, Pro-Chancellor, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to prison reform and criminal justice campaigning, it gives me great personal pleasure to present Lady Edwina Grosvenor for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.