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Nick Hammond: Keelite of the Month May 2014
1977 BA Applied Social Studies and Sociology, CQSW and Diploma in Social Administration
What am I doing now?
A long career in probation and now seconded from London Probation to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Head Office as an advisor on foreign national offender issues… always a sensitive and high profile area combining offender management and immigration policy.
Photo left: Nick at the Ministry of Justice, London
How did you get to where you are now?
Interest, chance and luck. An experienced Probation Officer by 1989, a move to Holloway Prison proved to be the start of my involvement with foreign nationals. Was surprised and shocked by the high proportion of foreign nationals there, mainly drug couriers from West Africa and South America. Their personal stories highlighted issues of poverty, inequalities, international organised crime, trafficking and migration and it was a challenge for prison and probation staff to work effectively with them.
Later, I established a specialist Probation Unit working with foreign nationals arrested at Heathrow Airport which developed prison and probation practice in working with the wider spectrum of foreign nationals includingsuch as asylum seekers, irregular migrants, EU nationals and others who pass through NOMS Prison and Probation. In London Probation, I have been the policy lead for our with probation's work with foreign national offenders and, since the 2006 'Foreign National Prisoner Crisis', adviseded NOMS on national operational policy development.
Photo right: Nick's collection of Student ID cards = someone who knows the value of a valid ID?
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Studying offending and foreign nationals at Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology and through a Council of Europe Pompidou Fellowship were immensely satisfying, though receiving a Butler Trust Award for my work in this area, at a Buckingham Palace ceremony, was pretty special.
And your biggest mistake?
Not pursuing the sports I was good at in school. Since Keele, aiming for a better work/life balance has always been difficult and seldom achieved.
What are your ambitions now?
Like most of the public sector, Probation is under-going massive organisational changes, the most significant change in its 100+ year history. To contribute to perpetuating Probation's values and ethos within the new delivery structures would be personally rewarding. The Probation Institute (which students can join) will play an important role in this regard. Plus to travel more abroad to visit all our Keele and other friends, who are settled throughout the world!
Photo: Class of 1977 reunion - growing old (dis)gracefully?
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Working will be for an increasingly longer period in the future, so you must follow those interests and passions which will sustain you during your working life. If you are interested in working with people in the broad area of social care or criminal justice, gain every possible experience as a student and afterwards, in voluntary, charitable or statutory settings to improve your prospects for employment. Essential for CVs and - more importantly – it will give you an understanding of your skills, aptitudes and interests.
What made you choose Keele University?
The unique 'Foundation Year', a degree combined with a professional qualification plus social work placements in the community meant it was not a difficult decision – I turned down other offers to come to Keele. Liz is a Head of Sixth Form and it’s pleasing to hear that Keele remains a highly popular choice.
What kind of a student were you?
Very social. I enjoyed the diverse drama and music scene at that time with many friends involved in acting, directing and performing. Particularly enjoyed folk music which was also strong; I was even in the Keele Rapper group - no, it wasn't cool then either but great fun.
How has Keele influenced your life?
Of course, meeting my wife (Liz Kohn, English and Russian 1977) was been pretty central to my life so I have everything to thank Keele for! Many of our best friends are from Keele days and it's been a constant source of amazement to those 'non-Keele' partners how friendships formed at Keele have endured compared with their University experiences. Four year courses and being a campus university obviously contributes to this - Keele remains a special place where life time friendships are formed.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
John Martyn playing at the Union at my first concert seen there. My friend Peter Gordon (American Studies 1977) taking a self-penned drama, 'A Play In The Life', around the Potteries, playing to four people at Burslem Town Hall - what people made of it goodness knows. Peter gained more success when taking an Eric Satie production to The Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Photo left: Applied Social Studies & Sociology Class of 1977 – outside a Hut
What is your impression of Keele now?
My first time back in twenty odd years was in March 2014 when I was invited by the School of Sociology and Criminology to their networking forum. Meeting current students to discuss careers in criminal justice was immensely satisfying and a real pleasure to be able to pay back in a small way for the benefits of a Keele education. Getting started in work for graduates is increasingly challenging and to be able to contribute at this most professionally organised event as Keele alumni was a genuine pleasure. Impressed to read in the April 'Forever Keele' Newsletter that this networking event is being expanded to other Schools. This is a marvellous opportunity for Alumni to contribute practically to Keele students - volunteer now!
Impressions of Keele now - very busy, intense, more visibly diverse students, still a very attractive campus despite the 'infilling' by academic buildings and residences. The Union Building is still standing and it even looks plush - not what I remember from the 1970's!