A Preston pensioner who listens to prisoners has been recognised for her volunteering.Advertisement
She’s spent 27 years hearing the inner-most thoughts of those in HMP Preston and now she’s on the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Stella Hayes, 71, has been awarded an MBE for her role supporting inmates.
She said: “I got involved at Preston Prison after going to a speech by a psychologist around the times of the Strangeways riots in Manchester in the late 1980s. It was hard at first. We used to walk the wings and give out Samaritans cards, and try and encourage people to speak to us.
“To begin with, prisoners would come up and ask why we were there – they were worried about our safety. Gradually though, things changed and inmates started looking forward to our visits.
“I was totally surprised but absolutely delighted to be given this honour. It’s a wonderful endorsement of Samaritans’ work and the difference we all make together in prisons and across our communities.”
Read more: When Stella was recognised by the British Citizen Awards
Stella was one of the first to do the role in prisons – which has now been rolled out across the UK by the Samaritans.
Director of Samaritans’ Preston branch Eileen Brierley said: “I am thrilled to see Stella recognised in this way for her long-standing commitment to Samaritans. She’s an inspiration to others, sharing her wisdom and making things happen, quietly, but with enormous impact.”