MKBLP go inside to learn about prison education

Date: 22 Apr 2016

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HMP Woodhill is opening its doors to employers that can offer jobs to rehabilitated inmates, Prison Governor Rob Davis has told business leaders.

Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership was invited to hold one of its recent Breakfast Briefing events within the walls of the prison. Woodhill inmates cooked and served a ‘full English’ and some prisoners then sat down with prison staff and visitors.

The event was co-organised by Milton Keynes College which provides Offender Learning programmes at Woodhill and 27 other prisons in England. College Principal and Chief Executive Dr Julie Mills, who is also an MK Business Leaders Board member, welcomed guests. She said the visit was aimed at encouraging employers to consider those leaving prison with work skills to fill roles in their organisations.

Rob Davis said Woodhill currently holds around 730 inmates with a range of offending behaviours. The aim of education and training programmes within the prison was that on release ex-inmates should be better people and their risk of reoffending be reduced. ‘Getting them into employment when they leave increases the chances of them not coming back into prison,’ he said.

Mr Davis said some inmates came in with the skills needed on the outside including plumbing, engineering and gardening and with the expertise of partners like MK College they could develop them, learn new skills and gain relevant qualifications. Woodhill has a good relationship with some local employers and inmates had moved into jobs on leaving. ‘Prisoners going out into work will have gained certificates showing they are drug free and have addressed their own behaviour,’ he said.

He told visitors: ‘The team here is committed to helping you as employers, and we can adapt our programmes to your needs. Whatever you need we can help with it so that you and your companies can help the people in here. I have a good budget for this, come and speak to us and find out more,’ he said.

Business Leaders members chatted to inmates about being in prison and their prospects on leaving Woodhill. James works as a cleaner in prison and he hopes to use the Intensive Cleaning training he has had, including dealing with bio-hazards, on the outside. Roland is a welder but said he lacks a knowledge of the latest Computer Aided Design methods. ‘With those skills I could improve my chances of getting a job when I get out’.