We are thrilled to announce that Fine Cell Work’s Open the Gates programme has been honoured with the Highly Commended Robin Corbett Award for our work reintegrating prisoners into the community. This is a proud moment for Fine Cell Work, and most of all for all the ex-prisoners (who we refer to as apprentices) and staff working at the Clothworkers Studio. It is here that the Robin Corbett plaque will sit proudly on display to remind us of what a special and hopeful place we have together created.
The motto of the Robin Corbett Award is “Live Your Best Life,” and these words from their website - “citizen,” “community,” “reintegration” – chime with the spirit of the Fine Works Hub, where apprentices work alongside staff and volunteers and are able to develop and to share their skills in an atmosphere of friendship and collaboration.
The award will enable us to deliver a brand-new series of 28 workshops for 30 apprentices at the Clothworkers Studio in 2021. It will fund six workshops on CV development, with information and guidance on disclosure of an offending background; six workshops on safeguarding and self-care; four workshops introducing the mentoring relationship; and twelve upholstery, mounting and framing workshops.
These will be truly collaborative events. Participants who have done earlier workshops will be able to contribute and teach their peers in later workshops.
The award stands out in the Criminal Justice landscape and is the most prestigious of its kind. The first award was made in 2014 in memory of Robin Corbett, who was Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group, to which the Prison Reform Trust is secretariat. Robin drove change that lives on such as his Private Members Bill ensuring lifetime anonymity for rape victims in court and the media. He said, “Prison isn’t full of bad people. Its full of people who have done bad things, and who need a second chance to change their lives,” and he lived by that belief.
Previous winners have been the prison works restorative justice programme, the Safer Living Foundation, who work with adult male sex offenders who have little or no support; Switchback, who use catering training as a preparation for release; Khulisa, who have brought about reductions in violence in HMP Forest Bank; and Recycling Lives, who get prisoners to gain training and employment in recycling and waste management. This year's two other winners were Standout and Offploy, both of whom also help ex-prisoners into work.
Our sponsor for the award was Angus Cameron, Head of Personality Disorder Strategy Implementation, NPS London. He wrote that at the Clothworkers Studio, “we genuinely see the development of an approach to desistance by inclusion of service users in the organisation and by the provision of meaningful activity, particularly payment for work done. Fine Cell Work works with the individual as a whole person and lays foundations for their future lives.”