Welcome to the ICPA European Chapter - meet our newly appointed Chapter Board Members
A warm welcome to our newly appointed Chapter Board Members for the ICPA European Chapter - Helena Pombares, Kathleen Van De Vijver, and Oliver Drews.
Welcome to the ICPA European Chapter - we look forward to working with you and supporting the advancement of correctional practice worldwide!
For the last 20 years, Oliver Drews, a former banker, has dedicated his life to the world of prisons. As CEO of the Telio Group, he grew his team, and the company, from 6 people to 300. Telio now serve prisons in 23 countries around the world. Oliver sees the prison as a place of a second chance and wants to support the rehabilitation of inmates with technical products. Since his first engagement with the ICPA, he has supported the collaboration of the public and private sectors to improve the situation for inmates and employees of the prisons. Moreover, he founded in 2022 privately the foundation “Connecting Hearts” to support the children of inmates.
“Let us concentrate the forces of all people working in the world of prisons to make life easier for all parties and to bring the needs of prisons to public discussion”.
Helena is an architect and criminologist with 18 years of experience who specialises in the use of salutogenic architecture, particularly in the justice sector. At present, her contributions to the sector involve lecturing Criminology at two Universities in the UK, as well as working as a Prison Architect Specialist for Pick Everard, a multidisciplinary architecture practice. Her role includes providing the research evidence base to inform practice in the delivery of sustainable, gender-responsive and trauma-informed custodial facilities that promote health and wellbeing for all prison users - prisoners, staff, and visitors - as well as the surrounding community while focusing on prisoner rehabilitation.
Helena aims to help the justice sector to improve by passing the knowledge forward, sharing and learning from other professionals, and contributing to the efficient delivery of sustainable, high-quality and human-centred facilities around the world.
Since 1999, Kathleen Van de Vijver has worked for the Belgian Prison Service. Before her current appointment, she was a judicial assistant at the Justice House of Ghent, a member of the Flemish Judicial Welfare Department supporting social services for inmates and a policy officer for the Society and Detention Department at the Prison of Antwerp. Between 1999 and 2015, she also worked as prison governor at the prisons of Saint-Gilles, Oudenaarde and Beveren.
Since November 2015, she has worked at the Central Department for Prison Labour within the Belgian Prison Service. She coordinates employment for inmates in 15 different prisons in Flanders. At the end of 2015, she was appointed as a coordinator for international relations and projects and was closely involved with Europris and ICPA, both organizations sharing their knowledge of the prison system worldwide.
Since March 2016, she has served as the national spokeswoman of the Belgian Prison Service. Through her role with the media, she is an expert in prisons and advises the senior management and minister of Justice.