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DR DIANE JAMES, JAMES MCGOWEN & MICHELLE PRESTON (HMP The Verne)

DR DIANE JAMES, JAMES MCGOWEN & MICHELLE PRESTON (HMP The Verne)

COMMENDEES 2012-13: Multidisciplinary team: for the development of the Jailhouse Café, a community interest company supporting skills training for offenders.

INSPIRE ARTICLE

[The following article appeared in issue 5 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]

As part of HMP The Verne’s Innovation Team, former Head of Residence Jim McGowen and former Equalities Manager Michelle Preston’s job became to develop creative links with community and business partners, to reduce reoffending. Their initiatives including forging a partnership with the borough council to involve prisoners in community improvements; running a roadshow to forge local links; and reopening a former prison staff mess as The Jailhouse Café, partnering with the education provider to teach NVQ level qualifications to prisoners on daily licence – led to the formation of a community interest company called Expia. With Dr Diane James appointed as CEO, they formed a dynamic and visionary trio, which has earned a Butler Trust Commendation.

The Jailhouse Café demonstrates the CIC’s effectiveness. Staffed by prisoners, it is now open to the public as well as staff from the establishment and has secured the partnership of a celebrity chef, who is offering a crime free employment future for offenders from HMP The Verne. In an adjacent building, a skill centre is being set up to deliver educational and vocational courses, working with local businesses. Other partnerships include a film project with Bournemouth University, a project with the Rotary Club to provide community mentoring, and an innovative IT pilot to create apps for the marketplace.

As well as helping prisoners to acquire real work skills, the significance of Jim, Michelle and Diane s work is having an effect on rates of offending. By continually drawing in new partners, they are reaching out to isolated and at risk groups, such as the long term unemployed, NEETS (those not in education, employment or training) and others at risk of committing crime.

Their work has huge significance, says HMP The Verne’s Deputy Governor, David Bourne: They are establishing environments for prisoners to acquire real work skills, improve their self esteem, develop interdependence and work towards real job opportunities and are making real inroads into tackling the social problem of offending.

For more information: contact HMP The Verne

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