Charles Kenyon: Prisoners learn life skills from sewing projects

Our columnist applauds the success of the Fine Cell Work charity

Charles Kenyon
Charles Kenyon

Fine Cell Work is a remarkable charity that offers long-term prisoners hope and a skill. I heard of it first when friends put on a stunning show of needlework for public sale at their house in Doddington, Lincolnshire. There is a big prison close by in Lincoln, in which Fine Cell Work is very active.

The charity is only 18 years old but it has already made a huge difference, as its clients' testimonials show. Ian has completed a City & Guilds course, Will now works for various clients as a dressmaker and Tony is drug-free and takes commissions for his needlework.

The idea is simple. Volunteers - who currently number 60 - help more than 500 prisoners throughout the country to sew, design and sell beautiful textiles.

Prisoners can keep a third of the profit for when they are released. In prisons, work is evaluated to ensure it benefits mental health and promotes calmness, a sense of self-worth and a positive feeling that he or she can make a go of life and not reoffend.Ex-prisoners often give talks at the sales of their work to explain how such simple initiatives can be life-changing.

The charity has sales planned in the run-up to Christmas in Colchester, the Guildhall in London and in Kensington, where the draw will be taken for this year's big fundraiser, a donated beryl and diamond ring.

Gifts can also be bought from Fine Cell Work's website, and the money raised from sales will be used to help prisoners this Christmas.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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