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An innovative recycling project which involves prisoners recycling flat screen TVs is proving a huge success with the prisoners, the Prison Service, and the wider community.  The project, which has operated successfully for a number of years in HMP Kirkham has now extended its reach to HMP Lancaster Farms. This expansion has been made possible through positive collaboration between the Work Company, the Prison Service, Preston based company Recycling Lives, and substance misuse service Inspire, with the potential to extend this unique opportunity to people in further prisons.

Lancaster Farms is a Category C Resettlement Prison which accommodates short term prisoners and those who are within months of release.  It aims to prepare prisoners for a productive life after release by focusing on education and work skills. 

Prisoners who volunteer for the project are trained to dismantle flat screen televisions into their component parts for re-use and recycling.  In addition to learning new skills and receiving their prison wages, they receive an additional weekly payment which goes into a savings account and is given to them on release.  The company that provides the work, Recycling Lives then also offers support and employment opportunities to prisoners after release.

Martin (not his real name) is one of those currently working on the project.  Martin said:  “I volunteered for this work because it’s not run by the prison, and has great potential for me after release.  I think the work is great, when I come to work here, it doesn’t feel like I’m in prison, which is a real benefit for me and it comes as a welcome break on a daily basis.”

“My work skills and habits are growing every day, and the more I work, the more I feel like a real person again.  This has been a huge thing for me, as I’m looking to relocate from my home town to take full advantage of the work opportunity that Recycling Lives offers.”

David Vaughan, Service Manager for The Work Company said:  “Many of the clients that we deal with have a similar story of drug or alcohol abuse and repeated reoffending.  What this initiative provides is a degree of continuity between the work that the prisoners do whilst in custody, and the opportunities available through Recycling Lives after release.  I think it’s that direct connection that is making this project so successful.”

Alasdair Jackson, Operations Director of Recycling Lives said:  “We also operate a social welfare charity which assists people struggling with homelessness alongside our business activity, so this work sits well alongside that.  Rehabilitation and reoffending are commonly identified as key issues facing the prison system.  By equipping prisoners with skills, self-confidence and work experience, we can help them to escape a recurrent cycle of repeat offending and become active members of society.”

“Darren is one of our many success stories.  Darren had a long history of drug abuse and reoffending, spending 30 years in and out of prison.  At HMP Kirkham, he worked in the Recycling Lives Flat Panel Display department. Since his release, he has been working full time for Recycling Lives, and has recently had a promotion.  He says that having a steady job has stopped him from reoffending.”

Inspire is the integrated substance misuse service in Lancashire, run by the charity CRI.  Inspire works alongside The Work Company to help people to deal with their alcohol or drug dependence, and move into employment and independence.  They work in the community as well as in custodial settings, providing support throughout the process of rehabilitation, and into employment and beyond. 

Derek Harrison, Governor at Lancaster Farms Prison said:  “The partnership working between Recycling Lives, Inspire, and HMP Lancaster Farms provides an exciting opportunity for combining purposeful activity for prisoners with resettlement opportunities on release. This resettlement scheme will support prisoners with substance misuse issues in gaining employment and accommodation on release, as part of a through the gate programme.”

“Prisoners employed on a prison based recycling workshop will be assessed for a placement with a community based recycling company on release, with specific resettlement support on release. This scheme will make a difference to those prisoners able to access employment with Recycling Lives on release, reducing their risks of further re-offending after release from custody.”