Fine Cell Work

Fine Cell Work trains prisoners in high quality, creative needlework in their cells and textiles training in prison workshops to increase hope, discipline and employability.

A workforce of 280 prisoners is supported by 72 volunteer instructors in 32 institutions across the UK. They create embroidered soft furnishings that are sold to interior designers in the UK and internationally. The programme enables inmates to finish their prison sentences with work skills, money earned and saved, and the self-belief to stop offending.

Fine Cell Work also supports some trainees after release, providing them with work experience, employment mentoring, and bursaries for employment training and tools, largely in the field of textiles. Overall, the programme has had a 90% non-reoffending rate (compared to a national average of 40% without external intervention), with 50% of participants moving into textiles work in upholstery, soft furnishings, costume-making and machine embroidery.

a man embroidering a textile

The Garfield Weston Foundation awarded Fine Cell Work a Major Grant to scale up this provision of post-release support by opening the Fine Works Hub, a textiles workshop for ex-offenders in the community. Since the grant was awarded, Fine Cell Work has succeeded in growing sales, which are ahead of target, and the charity is now developing a long-term product and marketing strategy to ensure that the sales of top quality products made by offenders and ex-offenders on its scheme have doubled by 2020.

“The Garfield Weston Foundation’s grant is the most generous Fine Cell Work has ever been awarded. It came at an absolutely crucial time; it has not only given us the confidence to move forward with our ambitious plan, but it has also given other funders and stake-holders confidence in our ability to realise our plans. Support for infrastructure and sustainability development is not always easy to secure, as many funders wish to directly fund beneficiaries. But without support like this charities cannot grow strong enough to expand their direct charitable work.” Katy Emck, Founding Director