On Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 December 2013 thirty specialists out of 14 European countries, who represented very different experiences, stages of development and knowledge , came together in Amersfoort (the Netherlands) for a workshop on the Training of Prison and Probation staff. This workshop, with the title “Education and training for Values driven work – future concepts” was organized by CEP and EuroPris in cooperation with Avans University of Applied Sciences and Hogeschool Utrecht (both located in the Netherlands), with the aim of having experts share their ideas and best practices.
In a preparatory meeting for the workshop five main themes had been selected: Burnout prevention/ Resilience, Selection & training, E-learning/IT, Quality assurance/measuring and Motivation. Each topic was introduced by one or two short plenary presentations, after which the delegates divided into three small groups to work on the specific topic. Kirsten Hawlitschek, Executive Director of EuroPris who chaired the first day of the event, told the participants that “this is really a workshop – not a sit back and relax conference.”
And working is really what the delegates did: at the end of the second day an impressive list of in total 82 recommendations was presented, meant for the participants to take home and to use in their own organizations for improvement or possible future changes.
The participants of the workshop indicated to be very satisfied with the workshop and its results. “It is rewarding for the organizers to see how grateful participants are”, said Kirsten Hawlitschek. “They have a chance to talk about their work with colleagues from other countries, and it is stimulating to continue with the organization of this kind of activities for our members”. Séverine Dubaissi from the French ENAP (École Nationale d’Administration Pénitentiaire), who was one of the speakers during the workshop, indicated that the event was “a rich human experience” during which she had “discovered much new evidence-based practices”.
Danijela Mrhar Prelic, Prison director in Slovenia, said that “the best value of the 2 day meeting for me was that each participant of the workshop had to put in his or her own knowledge and experience from the field of education and staff training. The working groups were, because of this principle, active, productive, innovative and knowledge exchanging. Each participant was actively involved and had the opportunity to get the knowledge and experience from the practice abroad. It was thus a workshop of give and gain. It was excellent!”
CEP and EuroPris certainly wish to organize a continuation of the event, either in using the same themes or by going into depth of one or two of the themes. The subject which was the most unknown among the participants and therefore the most interesting to continue with was the one on E-learning/IT.
All together it was a very successful event during which in many ways “relationships were established across the borders”.