Open the Gate - our post-prison programme January 1, 2018 12:00

In 2017 Fine Cell Work launched its Open the Gate Programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, to support prisoners with reintegration into society upon their release from prison.

The programme offers a range of support to ex-prisoners - who we refer to as apprentices - including:

  • Volunteering opportunities in the Fine Cell Works Hub; giving apprentices structure, routine and purpose to their days in a beautiful professional workshop. This also gives them something to put on their CV and a reference for future job applications.

  • A chance to complete the Fine Cell Work training programme (accredited by the Open College Network) - “Machine Stitched and Hand Finished Products for the Home Interior” which develops our apprentices stitching skills further and gives them machining skills.

  • An employment mentor - a professional individual who dedicates time to meet with apprentices on a regular basis, helps them with career advice and further learning opportunities, offers emotional support and links apprentices into professional networks.

  • Short term paid job opportunities in the Fine Cell Work production team.

In addition to all the above we have a member of staff dedicated to support apprentices with any emotional or practical issues that they may face during their time with FCW.

Apprentices do not have to have stitched with Fine Cell Work in prison to join the team, however the criteria for potential FCW apprentices is as follows: 

  • Have spent time in a prison
  • Be released into the London area
  • Not have any licence conditions that would prevent them from spending time at the Fine Cell Work Hub in Battersea, South London.
  • Can travel to the FCW hub
  • Be in stable accommodation/not be street homeless.
  • Can be respectful to staff, volunteers and other apprentices and have a commitment to their own personal development.

If you want to find out more please contact our Head of Programmes and Volunteers, Jenni Parker -

If you are an ex-prisoner who would like to join our team simply fill out this self-referral form and return to our Volunteer and Programmes team at

With thanks to funding by the National Lottery Community Fund