The plaque unveiling with Friends of Grendon
One prisoner's intricate piece of artwork
A warm welcome for the visitors and families
'Having a relative in prison can leave you feeling isolated and alone'
Cherie made a return visit to HMP Grendon on Friday 8th February for the official opening of the purpose built visitors centre, the result of a long running fund raising campaign in which Cherie had participated by hosting an event at her Buckinghamshire home nearby.
Cherie was delighted to be invited to the opening and to have the honour of unveiling the striking plaque, which had been specially made from the granite of a recycled pool table, sited outside the centre. She also enjoyed a tour of the centre itself which is warm and welcoming, offering high quality facilities for all ages including a well resourced children's play area. The main room is brightly decorated and features artworks on the walls created by the prisoners under the guidance of the artist in residence at Grendon.
Cherie was presented with another piece of therapeutic artwork, an intricate model of a prisoner's cell that he had made by hand over many weeks and hours.
Yet no tax payer's money has been used to create the centre, it is entirely funded by donations from supportive benefactors and people in the local community who want to see offenders change their behaviour in this vanguard prison.
HMP Grendon is a high security institution housing dangerous male offenders who have committed serious crimes but it offers a radical approach to rehabilitation as the only prison in Europe to operate using therapeutic techniques. Grendon's strategy is to engage in a therapeutic dialogue with the inmates, designed to lead to prisoners' greater understanding of their usual behaviour and help them develop more positive relationships. The hope is that by changing how they relate to others there will be a reduction of the criminal's risk of re-offending in return.
This makes HMP Grendon a unique national facility which can house prisoners from as far afield as Cardiff, Newcastle, Leeds and Exeter. Until recently families travelling such distances to visit the inmates had only a bus shelter to wait in at the end of their journey.
The Friends of Grendon can now offer warmth, shelter and advice at a sensitive time for the prisoners' families.
One regular visitor spoke movingly about the difference that the Centre has made to her life: 'Having a relative in prison can leave you feeling isolated and alone, at least when I visit Grendon I feel valued respected and included'
For more information about HMP Grendon click here