The College’s project with women offenders at Send Prison has given many of us an insight into the contradictions in our attitudes to crime and punishment, forcing us to reassess prejudices and pre-conceptions.
Elizabeth Fry, English Quaker and prison reformer, (1780-1845), about to visit prisoners in Newgate, to read them the Bible.
My interest in prisons began as an A level student when I studied the nineteenth century penal reformer Elizabeth Fry. As a woman working against cultural and societal norms, she was a great female role model, but more importantly she made the link between education and prisons, establishing a prison school for the children of offenders.
When I worked at what was then Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, we established a writer in residence at Gloucester Prison, which brought home that in spite of the illiteracy of many offenders, they are inventive, innovative and, given the opportunity, able to make extraordinarily creative work. Coming to London College of Fashion, I was determined to establish a project giving such people the chance to gain training and education to transform their lives.