Tributes have been paid to charity worker Darren Walters, who died in May aged 44 following a heart attack. Darren turned his life around following issues with drugs, and contributed to shaping the future of prison healthcare in Lancashire.
Darren, from Accrington, spent 20 years in and out of prison for a variety of offences after becoming involved with drugs at the age of 15. After linking up with Red Rose Recovery, a charity that helps people deal with substance misuse issues, he managed to start a new life.
Through his work with the charity, Darren came into contact with the NHS where he was able to advise on the way healthcare in prisons should be delivered. NHS England’s health justice commissioning manager for the North (North West), Simon Smith, said: ‘Darren has first-hand experience of the delivery of prison health services. He was able to use his unique perspective and bring a sense of realism to how we develop these health services.’
Darren brought the benefit of a service user perspective to a multi-agency panel, reviewing tenders alongside doctors, nurses and other health professionals, and stakeholders such as local authorities and the National Offender Management Service.
Speaking at the time, he said: ‘If my input makes a change for all the right reasons, I can take great satisfaction from that.’