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Prison Library Assistant

Job Introduction

Do you have a passion for reading, literacy, information and customer service? Are you looking for a unique and inspiring role?

We see our library roles as more of a vocation, because you’ll be part of a community of partners, providing a much-needed service to our library users. The library is crucial in supporting the wellbeing of those in prison and it helps to promote positive behaviours in those library users. So, the work you’ll do will have a real impact on people’s lives and the community.

HMP Swinfen Hall is a category C prison and young offender institute. The Library is a branch of Staffordshire County Council Library Service, and the onsite Library team work closely with Library staff in the other Prison Libraries in the County, as well as with onsite Prison and Partner staff and Management. This role reports to and works with both SCC, SCC PLS and Prison Management.

The Library is a well-used and valued resource within the Prison, and is currently open daily Monday to Saturday. The Library team of 2 Library assistants led by the Library Supervisor, offer both outreach / wing based and main library, service provision, supporting all prisoners with access to books, information, activities & resources.

This 14.5 hour grade 4 part-time post usually operates on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and one out of three Saturday afternoons.  Shift patterns can be subject to change, including if the Prison regime changes in the future. Please note that as stated, the salary range shown reflects fulltime hours, the actual salary paid is on a pro-rata basis for the 14.5 hour contract, please factor this in before you apply.

Main Responsibility

The Prison / custodial environment can be challenging but also extremely rewarding. Working in Prison Libraries is a vocational customer service role, that offers an opportunity to make a difference on a daily basis.

You will:

  • provide and develop an essential service, encouraging and promoting creativity, literacy and reading for pleasure and learning.
  • Actively engage with customers, to support them in using their library space, service and resources for their personal and professional development and benefit both short and long term.
  • Work in the main library and across the prison to offer Library resources and activities

We aim to play a part in reducing reoffending and enabling prisoners in improving their prospects and situation whilst in custody and for a future on release in the community, linking with public libraries, and leading into resettlement.

The Ideal Candidate

You’ll be a positive and proactive person with great customer-facing customer service skills and experience, and a love of reading.

We’re looking for:

  • a confident and calm person with integrity and a strong work ethic, who can work efficiently individually alone and as a part of a team; both the onsite Library and Prison team and in SCC Library Service.
  • someone who is resilient, adapts well and positively to change and is a strategic and imaginative thinker.

If you’re someone who is eager to help, support and engage with customers and colleagues, and who would strive to make a difference then this could be the job for you.

Formal and informal personal and professional development and learning are a need and expectation, so this position would suit someone who is always keen to develop, diversify and learn for their own benefit and for the benefit of their role, service, colleagues and customers.

The role does require some cover of colleagues at other times outside the set core-shifts of this post and so would suit someone with the availability and flexibility to accommodate this. It would therefore be beneficial if you are happy and able to travel and hold a current valid UK drivers license. Please consider the location of this in-person post in terms of travel / distance, as well as considering the setting of this post and the shifts, hours and salary before you apply.

This position is subject to a criminal records check from the Disclosure and Barring Service  which will require you to disclose details of all unspent and unfiltered spent reprimands, formal warnings, cautions and convictions in your application form. Vetting and checks including employment reference checks, will be undertake by the Prison / HMPPS and Staffordshire County Council.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend in-person interviews at the prison at a date to be confirmed. You may also be offered to attend the prison / prison library for a short pre-interview visit, this could be on the day of interview or at a pre-arranged time prior to this.

For more information about this role, please message Sarah Cripps

About Staffordshire County Council

We are no ordinary county council:

Our Values:

The core of who we are as an organisation. Just like we all have personal values that shape our thoughts and behaviour, organisational values drive how we think and act collectively.

Our values were created and shaped by colleague feedback and national best practice and they sit at the heart of People Strategy:

We have a real sense of community spirit that brings our people together. This feeling of belonging means we are all connected to what we do and take pride in the difference we make every day for Staffordshire people. We are ambitious and our sights are set firmly on a better future.

We look forward and race ahead - that goes for your career too. 

Our benefits:

We recognise that it is our employees that are central to everything we do. We aim to create a supportive working environment where employees can achieve their full potential and achieve a healthy work-life balance. 

In addition to your salary, as a member of staff, you will have access to Our rewards and benefits - Careers at Staffordshire

Our recruitment process:

As an Authority we are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people/vulnerable adults and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.

Staffordshire County Council is an equal opportunities organisation and Disability Confident employer. We encourage applications from all background and communities

As part of our commitment as a Disability Confident employer, a Gold Award Armed Forces employer and our commitment to supporting care leavers - we offer a guaranteed interview as long as your application meets the minimum criteria for the post. 

As you’ll know safeguarding and promoting the welfare of our children and young people/vulnerable adults is important to us and that’s why this position is subject to a criminal record check from the Disclosure and Barring Service. If applicable you should disclose details of unspent and unfiltered spent reprimands, formal warnings, cautions and convictions in your application form.


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Disability confident committed Armed Forces Covenant. Proudly supporting those who serve. Gold Award