Fine Cell Work
Fine Cell Work is a Registered Charity that teaches needlework to prison inmates and sells their products. The prisoners do the work when they are locked in their cells, and the earnings give them hope, skills and independence.
Savings reduce the likelihood of offenders returning to crime. Prisoners often send the money they earn from Fine Cell Work to their children and families, or use it to pay debts or for accommodation upon release.
The inmates are all instructed by volunteers, many of whom have been taught at the Embroiderer’s Guild, the Royal School of Needlework and the world of professional design. Once trained, they can be responsible for difficult commissions done to deadlines, and support other inmates who are still learning.
The charity was founded by Lady Anne Tree, who first had the idea in the 1960′s when she was a prison visitor at HMP Holloway. With the help of the Royal School of Needlework she enabled two lifers to make needlepoint carpets which were then sold as collectors items in New York. However, in those days the prisoners were not allowed to receive money for the work. This determined Lady Anne to establish an organisation in which prisoners could learn a skill to the highest level and be paid for their efforts.
Fine Cell Work today aims to show that prison work can be the best on offer and to enable prison inmates to help themselves by selling their work to the general public.
“It’s one of the few things done in prison that has a purpose, is creative, constructive and has a point. Every canvas is a challenge, some more than others. It also helps me with to earn money to buy stamps and phone cards as prison wages don’t go too far.” Inmate, SPS Peterhead
- In 2008 Fine Cell Workers hand-stitched a total of 1,222 items.
- In the same year, 350 inmates earned a total of Â£61,890
- Two thirds of the stitchers are men
- We work in 26 prisons in England and Scotland
- The inmates are taught by 45 volunteer instructors