Community leaders came together to celebrate the launch of a book to mark the opening of a £250m super-prison.
The HMP Berwyn legacy book – How We Built a Prison for North Wales – was unveiled at Coleg Cambria.
Author Susan Miller oversaw the project in collaboration with students and staff at Wrexham Glyndwr University, the National lottery-funded ADOR (A Degree of Responsibility) scheme, prison governor Russ Trent and developers Lendlease.
The collection of photos, interviews and articles will commemorate the construction of the category-C male prison, the largest in Europe.
Speaking at the event, Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Claire Taylor, paid tribute to the organisations involved, notably Lendlease, which commissioned the students to document the timeline from inception to opening.
“This hasn’t just been about writing a book,” said Dr Taylor.
“The value that students have gained from involvement in this project has been immense.
“They have learnt key employability and personal development skills such as project management, planning and organising events, research and information-gathering, meeting deadlines, writing and producing chapters for the book, team working and communications.
“They have been working alongside real employers on a live project, thereby experiencing first-hand the opportunities and challenges presented by being engaged with the world of work.”
She added: “We are delighted that as this part of the project comes to a close, Wrexham Glyndwr University continues to work closely in a variety of ways with Russ Trent and his team.
“We are looking forward to continued collaboration, including through research projects and doctoral study.”
Joanne Prescott, a graduate teaching assistant at the University, played a key role in pulling together the content. As part of her PhD she will look at the ethos and philosophy of offender management at the jail.
She said: “I have always been interested in prison reform and penal policy, so when I heard about the project, I jumped at the chance to become involved.
“During my time on the project I have been able to work closely with many of the key stakeholders and senior management teams involved with HMP Berwyn, and it is this opportunity to network which has given me the foothold in which to pursue a PhD research project at the prison.
“Without the book, none of this would have been possible; it really has been a life changing experience and one which I have enjoyed from start to finish.”
Her words were echoed by Rita Patel-Miller, Community Engagement and Training Manager for Lendlease at HMP Berwyn.
“It has been a pleasure working with the students from Wrexham Glyndwr University, they showed a real commitment to the project, collating information, interviewing key partners and stakeholders, juggling deadlines and attending meetings while working towards their individual qualifications,” she said.
“Their support has been very valuable to the book project as they collated lots of information and helped us to collaboratively meet some challenging deadlines and expectations.”
Susan added: “It was a very exciting scheme to be involved in. I have worked on similar projects in the past, but this was the first time I was working with, and mentoring, students.
“They did a lot of the work and I was there to support them, give them encouragement and help to guide them, while watching them grow in confidence and enthusiasm.”