Aims & Objectives
In 2012 we diversified our core model from solely employing ex-offenders in the community to offering work and support to prisoners. To achieve this we formed a subsidiary company, Blue Sky Inside, to create workshops inside prisons and employ serving offenders to carry out commercial contracts. Blue Sky Inside’s objectives are:
- To generate new employment and training opportunities to engage prisoners
- To create a safe and professional working environment to increase the prisoners’ motivation and self-esteem
- To provide our workforce with support and guidance on employment and housing prior to release and then ‘through-the-gate’
- To secure commercial contracts with private sector companies to create UK manufacturing jobs and demonstrate how the most marginalised in society can be involved in a successful commercial enterprise
- To work closely with other voluntary organisations where necessary to create a well rounded package of support tailored to each worker’s needs
Blue Sky Inside News
May ’15: A new Community Worker
Apr ’15: On the catwalk with conviction
April ’14: A fashion show in the Old Bailey
“For me, Stitch has been a saviour” Gill More news…
‘A Stitch in Time’, HMP Bronzefield
The first Blue Sky Inside in-prison workshop has been operational in Bronzefield, a women’s high security prison in Middlesex, since March 2012. We were keen to incorporate more women into our model because female offenders are a particularly vulnerable group of society. Take, for example, that 50% of women prisoners report having experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
- ‘A Stitch in Time’ is a textiles workshop with the capacity to employ up to 19 women.
- We won our first commercial contract from Anya Hindmarch to manufacture 5,000 cotton dustbags and, impressed with the quality, we have been given multiple repeat orders – we now produce over 10,000 dustbags for the company per year.
- Our second came from Brora and we have made over 8,000 jewellery bags for the Scottish cashmere company.
- We have also taken on bespoke orders such as manufacturing a line of high-end coats and dresses for fashion designer Sue Bonham. The women certainly enjoyed the challenge of working with new materials like silk and wool and loved that the garments were presented down a catwalk for a fashion show at The Old Bailey.
We strive to make top quality goods that meet or even exceed the high standard expected by our clients:
“The items that you are producing for us are up to our high standard. We are very happy with the quality of work coming from you” Production Manager, Brora
“The workmanship is very impressive, the stitching is perfectly neat so they can all be proud to have done a great job on making them” Production Manager, Anya Hindmarch
Woodwork & Textiles, HMP High Down
In early 2013 Blue Sky Inside increased its capacity and coverage by starting to operate in High Down, a local male prison in Surrey. Working closely with the staff there we quickly started producing products in their existing sewing and wood workshops.
We had always planned this expansion so that we could support more prisoners from different areas back into the community. However, it was also required as a result of increasing and diversifying our commercial workbook. We are pleased to be working with the team from Et Games who are committed to manufacturing their products in the UK with high social value.
Currently the men are producing Bridget, a strategic board game, as well as the bags that the games are packaged in. So far they have produced over 1,500 games using sustainably sourced hardwoods and organic cloth.
There is a noticeably positive atmosphere in the workshops. The workers clearly enjoy being in meaningful employment and being part of a team that has to work hard together in order to meet (and usually exceed) targets and expectations.