Who We Are

The Oswin Project supports people with criminal records, helping them access employment and training. We provide volunteering opportunities, paid work experience, as well as CV and disclosure support. Our team benefits from a diverse array of talents, experiences and perspectives, including staff and volunteers with criminal records. 

Gay Penn

Gay was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne and has lived near Morpeth for 47 years. Gay is married with 2 children, 2 step children and 8 grandchildren. In 1966 she joined the family business working in all departments then became a director of the company and finally was responsible for personnel and training.

In 1978 she and her husband started a saddlery business in Morpeth taking early retirement 18 years later. For the past 10 years to date she has been a director/partner of an award-winning food hall, gift shop and cafe situated just outside Ingleton in North Yorkshire. She believes that everyone should have a second chance which is the very ethos of The Oswin Project.

Pam Walker MBE

Pam worked in Juvenile Justice for 15 years, developing and providing alternatives to custody for young offenders. Latterly she worked in the voluntary sector with disadvantaged minorities, running and developing projects providing advocacy and access to services. She is a past member of the Northumbria Probation Board and of the Northumberland Safeguarding Advisory Board. She has BA’s from Leicester and Durham Universities and an MA from the University of Northumbria. She is an Associate Lay Minister in the Church of England.

Fiona Sample MBE
Founder & CEO

Fiona was born in Berlin and spent much of her childhood between Cheltenham (where her father worked at GCHQ) and Germany. She started her career as a Welfare officer for the Red Cross and on marrying and moving to Northumberland become a teacher. Fiona studied Theology and Ministry at Durham University. She was ordained in 2008 and worked in a variety of roles in the Diocese of Newcastle until November 2022. She was High Sheriff of Northumberland 2011- 12.

After her first visit to a prison, Fiona decided it was imperative to build a bridge of opportunity between prison and beyond the gates and so founded The Oswin Project.

Fiona is also the Employment Advisory Board Chair for HMP Durham. A national initiative of James Timpson to connect prospective employers with prisons to enable training and work in prison and grow connections so prisoners have a job on release.

Fiona was appointed an MBE for the Rehabilitation of offenders in the King’s first Birthday Honours (2023).
She lives with her husband on a farm in Northumberland.

Our Core Staff Team

Caroline Chrisp

Mentor Manager

Assistant Mentor Manager

Office Manager

Project Co-Ordinator

Project Officer

Cafe 16

Project Manager & Baker
Cafe 16 in HMP Northumberland

Project Officer
Cafe 16 in HMP Northumberland

Cook & Mentor
Cafe 16 in HMP Northumberland

Project Manager
Cafe 16 in Newcastle Cathedral

Assistant Manager
Cafe 16 in Newcastle Cathedral

Inside & Out

Project Manager
Inside & Out

Assistant Manager
Inside & Out

Changing the Cycle

Project Manager
Changing the Cycle

Our Trustees

Harry Chrisp

Harry Humble

Nicholas Goudie

Peter Taylor OBE

Winton Keenen QPM DL

Our Volunteers

Lucy Browne-Swinburne

Nathan Coundon

Jonathan Parr

Sophie Reynolds

Matilda Sample

Jamie Steane

Val Windle

Our Ambassadors

Lieutenant General Robin Brims

Lieutenant General Robin Brims

Mark Copsey

Tom Fairfax

Roderick James

Claire McAlpine

Rachel Swinburne

Rachel Swinburne