Inspiring inclusion - HMP Foston Hall staff are using International Women's Day to appeal to others

Governor at HMP Foston Hall hopes local women feel inspired to join her team. HMP Foston Hall is one of just 10 female prisons in England. HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire is currently looking for operational support grade staff.
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This International Women’s Day (Friday, 8 March), the governor of one of England’s busiest female-only prisons is appealing to women in Derbyshire to join her team. Despite public perceptions that it is a male-dominated profession, there are now officially more women working for the prison service than men. Currently, 55% of staff in post are women across the board.

Staff and prisoners alike will mark International Women’s Day and use it as a chance to reflect on the issues they face and share. Michelle Quirke joined as governor of HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire last year.

She says:

Michelle Quirke, Governor at HMP Foston HallMichelle Quirke, Governor at HMP Foston Hall
Michelle Quirke, Governor at HMP Foston Hall
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“We will hold an event for the female prisoners in the boardroom of the prison, featuring pictures and quotes from inspirational women from all walks of life. It’s a great chance to get the women together to talk.

“Self esteem is a big issue for women here and we are always looking for ways to help build it up. They have often faced massive trauma up to the point of custody. We want to highlight other women who have come through in their chosen field, to showcase their triumph over adversity.

“Working in a female-only prison comes with its own unique experiences and challenges and it is imperative that women at Foston Hall, including the most vulnerable, are treated with dignity and kept safe during their time with us.

“That’s why we are looking for dedicated women across the Midlands to join a diverse team and go the extra mile to support women through a challenging time in their lives. We will provide you with specialist training and the help and resources you need to succeed. You might think you haven’t got what it takes, but you have. It’s not about the qualifications you have, it’s about the qualities you have, whether you’re a mum, a teacher, a nurse, a pub landlord – there’s no one size fits all when it comes to working for the prison service.”

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This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ - a topic close to Michelle’s heart. She wants all women in her prison to feel included with cultural events being held throughout the year.

She says:

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“We are always looking at ways to mark festivals for our different communities and recently had a special menu for Chinese new year. I went round giving fortune cookies to the staff and got the most amazing reaction.

“Celebrating things we are not normally aware of is what inclusivity means to us. We are looking for more diverse menu options, it needs to be so different to what men want in prison. Women want to eat fewer carbs, and women identify culturally through food as well.

“Our Caribbean women have grown up eating a different kind of food, they have often made it with their mum and with their grandma. So sharing that food with all of our prisoners can mean so much more than just a meal. It’s a simple change but one we can make.”

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HMP Foston Hall is a closed category prison and young offender institution (YOI) for women aged 18 and over. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is currently running a national recruitment drive with a range of adverts running across television, radio and online.

HMP Foston Hall is looking for compassionate, creative people with excellent communication skills who can make decisions effectively. Those who would like to take the first step towards a rewarding career can apply or find out more by visiting

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Notes to Editor  

Key workers, problem solvers, life changers.     

· HMPPS is looking for people who can demonstrate good communication and influencing skills, commitment to quality, effective decision-making, care and understanding.   

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· Training is available throughout a prison service career including for support staff, who can progress to become a prison officer. Officers can also choose to progress into management, become a dog handler or train as a physical education instructor.   

· A prison officer salary starts at £30,902, and you have access to a Civil Service pension. HMPPS is currently hiring prison officers across England and Wales.    

· To listen to a series of podcasts that give unprecedented insight into what really goes on behind the prison walls, click