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Fine Cell Work and RECOOP collaborate at HMP Leyhill

Monday, August 8th 2016 - RECOOP

Back in June 2014 Fine Cell Work ( was introduced at The Lobster Pot, the over 50’s Day Centre run by RECOOP at HMP Leyhill.  It was the first time the project had been set up in an ‘Open’ Prison, in recognition of the fact that it offered meaningful work, with the possibility of payment, when opportunities for employment amongst the older age group were limited.

Two years on and Fine Cell Work continues to flourish, offering the men an opportunity to become proficient in a new skill with the potential for future employment post-release.  The benefits include:

  • reduced isolation – one reclusive man is now attending the Lobster Pot on a regular basis and joins in the Fine Cell Work where he now happily sows in the company of others;
  • increased self-esteem and a deeper sense of self-worth;
  • pride in work well done and a belief that ‘I can do this’;
  • shared support and encouragement as well as a connection to the wider society;
  • positive impact on levels of self-harm.

In the words of two stitchers in the group:

Since doing Fine Cell Work it has given me a focus and helped me channel my thoughts in a more productive manner.  I particularly enjoy getting feedback from people who have purchased products as it gives a boost of feel-good factor”. 

"I need something to occupy my hands and mind.  I've always self-harmed, but this has reduced significantly since being in the group".

RECOOP co-ordinates the fortnightly sessions; managing the waiting lists, liaising with the group of twelve stitchers (hopefully increasing to fifteen soon) and making sure that all the Fine Cell Work volunteers need to worry about when they turn up for their session is teaching high quality stitch work to the group. 

The Centre for Justice Innovation and CLINKS have recently shortlisted this charitable partnership for good and innovative collaboration between charities and agencies in the criminal justice sector for an award and study they are undertaking.

Importantly, RECOOP’s experience in dealing with older offenders has enabled adaptations for those who are disabled, including providing stands and frames for those living with the long-term consequences of stroke and other illnesses.

The Fine Cell Work group at HMP Leyhill is simply put - ‘a success’, but the long term impact is difficult to gauge.  However, we do know the men leave prison with new skills, talents and hope which can only be positive.

Click here to visit the Fine Cell online shop.


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