An innovative collaboration between London College of Fashion (LCF) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been established at HMP Holloway, a female prison in London. The Fashion Training and Manufacture Unit is a social enterprise initiative aimed at providing skills and meaningful employment for serving and recently released offenders.
This exciting project, which has been set up to help female offenders turn their backs on a life of crime, fills a recognised skills gap within the London area. It aims to train and employ up to 20 female offenders on a regular basis within Holloway prison and support them on release to gain work placements and employment within the fashion manufacture sector in the UK.
Head of London College of Fashion, Professor Frances Corner OBE, said:
“After the recent success of our award winning project at HMP Send we are delighted to be working with HMP Holloway. As Head of London College of Fashion I have a long standing commitment to working with the National Offender Management Service and know that education is a key factor in the rehabilitation process and keeping people out of prison. Social enterprises such as ours give individuals a chance to become independent and contribute to society in a more positive way.”
Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes said:
“Putting in place the right services to meet the needs of female offenders is vital if we are to reduce reoffending and help them to lead law abiding lives.
“I want to see all women benefit from quality education and training in prison which will prepare them in the best way possible for eventual release and future employment opportunities.”
Currently there are around 150 fashion manufacturers based in and around London that employ 1500 machinists. Largely down to an aging workforce there is an annual shortfall of approximately 150 machinists, representing a significant skills gap. Not only will this project help to fill this gap but also to reduce reoffending rates. Offenders are less likely to reoffend if they have the skills and work experience to gain employment and generate an income to support their family on release.
The social enterprise aims to deliver a structured training module that sees participants studying for NVQ qualifications as well as work on commercial contracts which will be secured to generate income and to run the project on a sustainable basis.
The project, which has been generously supported by Sir John Cass’s Foundation, employs a Specialist Production Instructor and a Cutting Room Lecturer to train the female offenders and run the social enterprise.