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Making For Change: providing fashion skills and qualifications to women at HMP Downview and communities in east London

Written by
Chris Ralls
Published date
15 October 2019

Delivered under London College of Fashion’s (LCF) ‘Better Lives’ programme, Making for Change is an award-winning project partnership with the Ministry of Justice, offering women prisoners a route away from re-offending whilst addressing a skills shortage within the UK fashion manufacturing industry.

Offenders at HMP Downview are given the opportunity to gain industry-recognised qualifications and build experience, confidence and employability through training and skills development. It is the College’s long-term aim to establish projects like Making for Change as viable alternatives to custodial sentencing for some offenders.

The Making for Change project has been made possible following generous support from Sir John Cass’s Foundation, The Mercers’ Company, The Pilgrim Trust, The Girdlers’ Company Charitable Trust and The Sheriffs' and Recorders' Fund.

Making for Change participant using a sewing machine
Image courtesy of UAL, Making for change

From Autumn 2019, Making for Change is expanding its operation to a purpose-built design and manufacturing hub, ‘Poplar Works’, in Tower Hamlets, where it will form a hub for social engagement, benefitting the local community. This exciting development will see LCF partnering with The Trampery and Poplar HARCA.

Development have been instrumental in fundraising for the future of Making for Change and have raised millions from charitable trusts and foundations to ensure this ambitious project can develop and broaden its social impact.

Here's what a participant of Making for Change, HMP Downview had to say:

When I first received my sentence and went into prison, I was shocked and scared... I had no previous sewing experience – I was taught how to use a sewing machine and after four months I had passed my Level 1 in Fashion and Textiles.

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