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Job Vacancy: Fine Cell Work Chair

Posted by Fine Cell Work on
Job Vacancy: Fine Cell Work Chair

Celebrating 25 years, Fine Cell Work is looking for a new Chair to guide its next chapter and exciting plans for growth. This is a great opportunity for an experienced, entrepreneurial individual who relishes a challenge, is passionate about the cause and wants to make a tangible difference. (Deadline: 14th January 2022)

About Fine Cell Work

Fine Cell Work is a charity and social enterprise with a proven record of reducing reoffending rates, producing beautiful products handmade in prison, and equipping prisoners post release with the skills to aid their reintegration into society. The prisoners’ high-quality, handmade products are sold to the public and designers, artists and heritage organisations commissioning bespoke artworks, with ever-growing demand. The prisoners gain about a third of proceeds from sales and are encouraged to save for their families and themselves after release; the public gain a beautiful and memorable product which shows there is hope in our prisons.

With a staff of 15, supported by approximately 350 volunteers yearly, the charity now has annual revenues of over £1 million. Fine Cell Work is the only British charity providing social enterprise and earned income for prisoners on such a wide scale and has created the largest workforce of hand-embroiderers in Europe. The charity’s model is sustainable, with a third of its income derived from sales of prisoners’ work, and it has increased the number of prisoners worked with every year since its inception 24 years ago – up until the 2020 pandemic.

In 2017, Fine Cell Work opened a textiles workshop in London providing employment support to ex-prisoners, and this has been extremely successful, with only a 4% reoffending rate (against a national average of 46%), and with 40% of participants going into work (against a national average of 17%). This extension of the charity's work has enabled it to grow by a third and to professionalise and stabilise its social enterprise, increasing sales of prison-made products by 60% over 2016-19 and increasing the number of prisoners worked with by 60% in the same period.

The goal of the charity now is to extend the range of opportunities for paid, creative work in its prisons so that all prisoners on its scheme can lead fulfilling and crime-free lives after serving their prison sentence. In the four years thereafter, Fine Cell Work’s ambition is to build on its prison and post-release programmes. The Charity plans to increase opportunities for rehabilitation by having more of a presence within the prison system to provide more of an impact on prisoners both in prison and post-release.

Fine Cell Work plans to do this by:

  • Establishing five production hubs centred around partnerships with textile workshops in prisons upskilling the prison-trained workforce
  • In the prisons, establish additional groups teaching hand-stitching in cell groups  
  • Continuing to provide increasing quantities of varied, skilled textile products adding new designs and product ranges
  • Expanding post-release support nationally  
  • Establishing a graduate support scheme for those who have completed our post-release programme

Role specification

Fine Cell Work’s existing Chair will shortly complete her third term. In that time, the charity has doubled its revenues, opened an employment training Hub in Battersea for ex-prisoners, exhibited at Sotheby’s collaborating with artists such as Ai Weiwei, built an enviable Trustee Board and positioned itself as a luxury British brand with a conscience.

2022 will see the charity celebrate its 25th Anniversary. With a theme of “Re-growth” the charity has identified a number of opportunities which will form the focal point for the celebrations with themed products and merchandise and a message of hope. After the pause of the pandemic, it is the perfect time to celebrate where Fine Cell Work has come from, hand over to new leadership, and look forward to the next chapter with renewed optimism.

The primary objective of the Chair is to lead the Board in providing overall leadership to the charity in close co-operation with the Chief Executive, in a manner which maximises the contribution of Trustees and staff alike and ensures that everyone works collaboratively to remain focused on achieving Fine Cell Work's vision. More specifically, the duties of the Chair are to:

  • Lead the Board in giving firm strategic direction to Fine Cell Work, with a clear vision, goals, policy and plans, linked to targets and key performance indicators
  • Ensure that the Board sets clear priorities for the development of strategy and policy
  • Ensure that the Board takes time to explore the wider and longer-term environment in which the charity will operate, particularly in terms of legislation and regulation, beneficiaries and their needs, income generation and any other key factors which may impact upon the charity’s objectives
  • Nurture and grow a culture of philanthropy and to lead by example
  • Ensure that the Board always acts in accordance with the charity’s constitution and mission, but also to ensure that the constitution is regularly reviewed so that it is fit for purpose
  • Ensure that Board decisions are communicated effectively and implemented

Person specification

Celebrating 25 years, Fine Cell Work is looking for a new Chair to guide its next chapter and exciting plans for growth. It would be desirable, but not strictly necessary, if candidates had previous Board experience and an appreciation of the charity, prison or public sector. Above all, they be able to demonstrate sympathy, empathy and passion for the charity’s ethos, vision, and mission.

This is an amazing opportunity for an inspiring, entrepreneurial individual who relishes a challenge and wants to make a tangible difference. The successful candidate will be a strategic thinker, with excellent business acumen, an empathy and understanding of both prisoners and the need for rehabilitation, with a can-do attitude. A great networker and communicator, they will demonstrate the ability to develop strong, working relationships with Trustees, staff, beneficiaries and external stakeholders as well as lead by example a culture of philanthropy.

The current Trustees of Fine Cell Work feel passionately for the work they are doing, and above all else, the new Chair should demonstrate these same values. They should be an inspiring, entrepreneurial individual who would like to make a tangible difference to the lives of those who work with the charity.

Fine Cell Work welcomes a wide range of applicants and those that can actively support the charity’s ambition to become more embedded in the prison system and to both rebuild and grow its reach.


Terms of appointment

This role is unremunerated; reasonable, pre-agreed travel expenses will be reimbursed. There are five Board meetings each year normally held on a Tuesday evening from 5.30pm to 7pm, with half of these taking place in-person at the charity's offices in Battersea, and the other half taking place virtually. There is also one strategy meeting each year. Ad hoc events include a staff team-building session each year, an annual volunteer event, monthly meetings with the CEO, and attendance and contribution to any sub-committee meetings which the Chair may join. The appointment is for a three-year term, which can be renewed twice at the discretion of the Board.


The deadline for consideration is 14th January 2022.

If you would like to register your interest, please fill in the form. A member of the Nurole team will be in touch ahead of the deadline to let you know whether it would be worth submitting an application and to discuss the process further.

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