In 2005, the Howard League for Penal Reform started the project 'Barbed'; a unique graphic design social enterprise established in Coldingley Prison.
The Howard League for Penal Reform, established in 1866, is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK. It is entirely independent of government and is funded by voluntary donations and membership subscriptions. The Howard League for Penal Reform believes that offenders must make amends for what they have done and change their lives, and aims for a safe society where fewer people are victims of crime. It also believes that community sentences make a person take responsibility and live a law abiding life in the community.
In 2005, the Howard League for Penal Reform started the project 'Barbed'; a unique graphic design social enterprise established in Coldingley Prison, near Woking. This was the first time that real work in prison had been tried in the UK, and it represented a radical departure from the uninspired, repetitive and poorly paid version of work that is common in prisons today.
The prisoners working for Barbed were trained as graphic designers and received a meaningful wage, with which they paid income tax and national insurance, as well as contributing to a special charitable fund and to Victim Support. Their remaining salary could be saved for when they were released or sent to their families on the outside.
Cherie visited the Barbed project in 2008. She met the men who worked at the studio as trained designers, as well as the studio's manager David Allen and director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook OBE.
Unfortunately, problems in the prison system meant that the Barbed project eventually had to close. Ever since her visit, however, Cherie has supported the Howard League's campaign for real work in prison, which has now resulted in a commitment from the government to expand similar initiatives.
For more information on Barbed and real work in prison click here
To read an article from The Howard Spring Edition click here