Convicts Embroider Fine Cell Work Bags | British Prisons Put Crims to Work

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Fine Cell Work Jailbird Bag

Fine Cell Work Jailbird BagBritain’s prison inmates are putting their free time to good use by participating in Fine Cell Work, a social initiative which gives cons needlepoint skills.

The heiress of British decorating firm Colefax and Fowler founded the scheme in the 1960s. It’s grown to become a thriving program which gives the inmates a small income and something to be proud of. Volunteers from the Royal College of Needlework train the prisoners and liaise with leading designers on the products. Cath Kidston and Tom Dixon are just two of the big names who’ve leant their creative talents to the project.

Fine Cell Work’s inmates create tote bags, throw cushions, quilts, and more. These goods aren’t just crude craft projects either, explained the program’s chief executive officer Katy Emck.

We always knew the work would have to be top quality in order to be saleable in high end markets,” she explained. “The prisoners know that they are stitching for money and that this is professional work that’s highly valued in the outside world. They know they have something to live up to and that’s very good for them.

The average prisoner earns about ₤8 a week for soap, tobacco, and other incidentals. Fine Cell Workers often earn twice this amount. This monetary incentive helps offset the gender stereotype surrounding needlepoint. In fact, three-quarters of Fine Cell Work’s stitchers are men.

Fine Cell Work products are available for purchase through the initiative’s website.

[Source: Fine Cell Work website]