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Gaolhouse Denim- Stitched-up by prisoners

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by Startacus Admin

How’s this for a conversation starter - “Guess who made my jeans?” Granted it’s not the most obvious of opening lines, but is sure to grab the attention if the answer is “Inmates of Her Majesty's Prison Service.”Gaolhouse Denim

You see, the prison service has a big problem - they would like the majority of their prisoners to be engaged in a normal working week whilst in prison. However, at present, of the 85,000 people currently detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure just 10,000 or so are gainfully employed. In many cases, it isn’t lack of will which is the problem but rather lack of work - there simply aren’t enough prison industries to offer everyone who wants to be productive, the opportunity to do so. As a result, prisoners often experience difficulties reintegrating into society and, having been out of the habit of working for so long, 50% of them will not be able to find a job - a statistic which is directly linked to reoffending rates…and so the cycle begins again.

Gaolhouse Denim is a British Jeans designer and manufacturer that has taken it upon itself to help give a leg-up to prisoners who aren't content to sit around waiting for their sentence to pass. They have installed themselves in the tailoring shops of a number of prisons across the country and provided inmates with the opportunity to learn new skills, gain a sense of achievement and receive some money for their efforts, which they can spend or save for use in the outside world.

Key to the ethos of the company is the fact that the inmates don’t only benefit financially from the arrangement but also benefit from the fact that the work (and tangible end-product) give a sense of achievement and the skilled nature of the work helps them to gain a perspective on their own potential.

Gaolhouse Denim“Providing inmates with meaningful work is the best way to increase prisoner to prisoner collaboration and instil a solid work ethic where often there has previously been none.”

It’s a business with a real sense of responsibility, knowing full well that they could have so easily (and more cheaply) outsourced the labour to some distant land, but choose instead to not only make great jeans… but make a difference as well.

“We wanted to take a stance. It may only be a small stance at the moment, but you’ve got to start small and think big.”

Now that’s our kind of thinking!

It’s a great little scheme (and its jeans are great too) so why not pay a little visit to find out more about them and the work that they do ?

Or if you you are inspired by stories of people turning their lives around then you will probably enjoy having a gander at these:

The Last Mile Project- Finding hope in prison

Allison's Journey from prison to poolside

Gloucestershire Bike Project - A True Social Enterprise

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Published on: 25th March 2014

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