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Calling all ex-Blue Sky employees

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in News.

21
Jul

Have you worked for Blue Sky previously?

We want to hear from you. What are you up to at the moment? Please complete the form below to let us know.

 

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Steve telling his story

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in Blog, Case Study, News, Steve's blog.

8
Jul

Steve was recently asked to go on Prison Radio to talk about Blue Sky and explain to the listeners about what it means to him specifically. 84% of England & Wales’ prison population reportedly listen to Prison Radio so this broadcast would have reached a huge number of people. We are pleased that we are also able to share this story with you on here.

Steve

This is a partnership production between the Prison Radio Association and BBC Outreach for National Prison Radio

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Finny’s triathlon blog #2

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in Blog, News, Steve's blog, Triathlon.

3
Jul

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Missed instalment #1? Read it here.

After Thursday’s swim things quietened down a bit as family stuff kicked in at the weekend. Having said that, on Sunday I managed a 5k run in Black Park!

Monday 30th June

Swim night. Feeling tired and am having to drag myself to the Ski Club in Denham. Any thoughts of going the distance were out of the question, my swim tonight is all over the place. I cross lanes colliding into oncoming swimmers on numerous occasions. Everyone was very polite and courteous although I had clearly knocked them out of sync. All except Gary Grumps from Grumpsville in Grumpland who barked “watch where you are going, keep in lane!”  I suppose it is just as well everyone in a swim suit looks the same in the water and you cannot recognise who is who – saves some embarrassment! I will put tonight’s training behind me though and look to Wednesday night – onwards and upwards.

Wednesday 2nd JulySteve Black Park 5km

Malcy, Toby and I are on our bikes riding around Dorney Lake on a wonderful summer evening. I am putting my new bike through its paces and am thinking ‘Finny at last has bought something that actually works’!

We do 20k, park up our bikes and with frozen and aching buttocks head straight off for a 5k run. About 0.02k in Malcy and I stop jogging due to our legs seizing up so it was stop / start for the rest of the 5k. This Brick training is quite hard but it must be a priority if we are to compete this Triathlon. With the swimming almost licked it is going to be a case of biking and running for the foreseeable future that will be the main focus of our training.

Am going to give tonight’s swim a miss as I have niggled a shoulder muscle. Not getting any younger you know!

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Finny’s triathlon blog

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in Blog, News, Steve's blog, Triathlon.

23
Jun

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Steve Finn  is representing Team Blue Sky at the London Virgin Active Triathlon in August, along with Malcolm Reilly, John Leach and Dave Golding. Here Steve blogs about his training schedule…

Thursday 5th June

Malcolm and I set off to get fitted up for our Tri Wet Suits.

We go to Bourne End and meet Alan who kits me out. I take my suit into the fitting room and with much ado I finally get this thing on. I walk out of the cubicle to get zipped up to the laughs of Malcolm and  the staff in the shop (memo to MM, sack Malcolm for being disloyal and making fun of me!!)

Malcy gets a let off as the shop did not have his size. Getting the suit off was just as difficult! What am I letting myself in for?

Monday 9th June

Dave,  Malcolm and I set off with Toby Malowen who is competing with us as an independent to meet Jo Lewis for an outdoor swimming lesson at  Denham Ski Club.

So here we are on the quay ready to have our first taste of outdoor swim. I look around for someone with a bucket of fish as we look like the seals from Whipsnade.

We submerge ourselves into the murky water, this is a different ball game altogether from the pool swim…

Thursday 12h June

Toby and I return to the Ski Club to have a swim. 200m in and I begin to struggle with my breathing and have a bit of a panic attack. Toby helps me get it together again and off we set. I get to 500 meters then an awful cramp set in to my calf. I manage to cut across lanes to the quay.

I have been doing the pool swim and getting up to certain distances but this outdoor swimming is serious business. Time to rethink my game plan. I meet Jo on the quay and tell her about my swim. Jo suggest drinking carbonated water during the day up to my swim in the future to help with cramp.

Monday 16th June

I have been drinking my carbonated water and focusing on my swim all day. I leave the house grabbing a full 2 ltr bottle of carbonated water. I get to the Ski Club, park up and think, I will have one quick swig of water. As soon as I twist the cap the water explodes covering the interior of the wife’s car.

If carbonated water were red the inside of the car would have looked like a scene from Pulp Fiction. Anyway, into the water we go and a much better swim tonight. I get to 600 mtrs and call it a night.

Wednesday 18th June

Morning swim for 7am. Cold!! It is amazing how the cold can affect a swim but hey the swimsuit seemed to fit better! 650 mtrs later and am now much more confident in the water. Back in the water for Monday as plan to watch the England game Thursday night.

Thursday 19th June.

Get a Tetanus jab. Good advice from Helen Coppock.

Saturday 21st June

Wake up bright and early for an early morning bike ride. I have my new I phone with me and I download the Strava App which logs my mileage, time etc. 0730 I set off with no real plan other than to skirt around Black Park until 0845 where I plan to meet my mate Dean to compete in the 5k Black Park Run which is run every Saturday. 0945. 17.5k later I meet Dean and we set off at a good pace as the whistle blows to start the run at 9am. Around 500 runners jostle for room and like seasoned race horses Dean and I move slowly up the order. The run is for all ages and I pass a lady in clearly in her sixties running along without bending her legs Ostrich like. 2.5k in my legs start to feel heavy and with my breathing laboured I tell Dean to crack on and I will see him at the finish. 3k in and with the heat bearing down I keep going and by the time I get to 4k all the runners I had passed previously are now passing me.

5k in overtaken by Ostrich Lady. Well done her much Kudos from me!.

Finish the run in 30 minutes at least I did not give up.

 23rd June Monday

Night Swim Denham Ski Club – My aim tonight is to push myself to a further 50 meters. Toby and I set off nice and calmly on this lovely summers evening. Toby as usual is around 20 meters ahead by the time we are 100 m into our swim. Now normally Toby would wait for me  meet at the 250 mark under a willow tree for a breather and a cheeky fag! I spot Toby and think to myself, no I am going to carry on as my breathing is controlled and my energy levels are good. My aim now is to reach the pink buoy which is around  the 800m mark. I pass the pink buoy and still feeling and breathing good I carry on and hey presto 1 kilometre later I am back on the quay. What an achievement I felt. Well pleased with myself!!

 24th June

5.30am in the Finn household. Scream from the Bathroom, memo to ones self not to hang wetsuit on shower head in the shower cubicle which face our toilet. Mrs Finn not impressed!

 25th June

Drop the lad off to Goalkeeper training and head off on the bike through Langley Park. Not enjoyable due to many gates so a lot of stopping and starting also dogs! Plenty of Dogs. Chased twice and held up numerous times by hoards of dog walkers in groups of three and fours. Am now becoming a grumpy cyclist. Completed 12k. Swimming tomorrow.

26th June.

At last I have sourced a decent road bike. Bought it second hand off a mush from Shepherds Bush. Got him down to £90 from a £100. Expensive Business this Triathlon Looks like the kids are on Haribos and dry bread again this weekend.

On a drizzly warm evening at the lake I swam another Kilometre just  to make sure Monday night was not a fluke. This time I timed myself, 35 minutes so am happy with my progress. Cannot wait to test the bike out this Weekend. Guess I need a helmet now!

 

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Carwyn’s blog – Hearts from offcuts

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in Blog, Blue Sky Inside, Carwyn's blog, News.

16
Jun

I return to HMP & YOI Bronzefield, a women’s high-security prison in Surrey, to catch up with ‘Stitch in Time’, Blue Sky Inside’s textiles workshop that produces fashion items and luxury goods for leading brands together with haute couture garments for fashion shows.

It’s a pleasure to be back having first visited the workshop earlier in the year. I acknowledge some familiar faces. Since I was last here, Sam has been promoted to be the new workshop supervisor. She greets me in textbook front-of-house fashion with a smiley welcome and the offer of a drink and a biscuit. Taking over from her predecessor Theresa (see Of angels and pins) Sam has big shoes to fill but she seems at ease in her new role.

I meet some of the more recent starters. Everyone I talk to enthuses about ‘Stitch in Time’ – “best job in prison” they say. Most enthusiastic of all, perhaps, is Elaine. Like many at the workshop, Elaine loves the quiet discipline that the work requires and the sense of pride and achievement that producing something of value brings. She loves the calm within the workshop, that everyone gets on with things and, most importantly, that everyone behaves with dignity and respect. (“Craftsmen make good citizens” says Plato in ‘The Republic’.)

So thrilled is Elaine with her work and with what she’s learnt to do that she’s asked to have offcuts from production to practice on in her cell. She shows me what she’s made from end-pieces of the material used to produce Anya Hindmarch dust-bags… a cushion in the shape of a heart. It doesn’t stop there. Elaine has transformed a grey regulation prison T-shirt into a stylish skirt. She stands up and gives a gleeful twirl. Elaine says she looks forward when she leaves prison to making loads of stuff from odds and ends, she’ll save money that way she says.

Through her extra-curricular activities, Elaine creates beauty and utility from frayed-ends of fabric. She sees value and potential in what others have discarded. The same can be said of ‘Stitch in Time’.

All names of prisoners have been changed

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afw

Andrew Fleming-Williams

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in News.

13
Jun

 

We are very sad to lose Andrew Fleming-Williams, a valued supporter of Blue Sky and a great friend to many here.

Andrew was a trustee of Blue Sky and chair of Blue Sky Inside since 2012 and, over the past 21/years, brought a very rare combination of skills, qualities and energy to these roles which had a tremendous impact on both organisations.

Andrew took on the chair role at Blue Sky Inside within a few weeks of operations starting at Bronzefield and quickly helped put together a highly effective board. In addition to being an impressive chair of board meetings, Andrew did a huge amount of work behind the scenes using his extensive network of contacts to open doors to workshops at High Down and Wandsworth; develop business leads with Et Games; secure employment and training opportunities with Royal Parks for prisoners on ROTL; encourage cooperation with like minded charities like Switchback; introduce new funders; and broker conversations around Payment by Results with NOMs.

Andrew had a real clarity of strategic thought which was informed by his previous business career and by many years working in the criminal justice sector including as Justice of the Peace; Treasurer of the Prison Reform Trust; Founder and Chair of Friends of Wandsworth Prison; and initiator of the Prison Forum project which aims to facilitate better dialogue and cooperation between prison staff and prisoners and which has become an example to other prisons of “best practice”.

In his interactions with the board, staff, beneficiaries of Blue Sky’s service and a wide range of stakeholders, Andrew was a passionate and persuasive advocate but also a very good and empathetic listener who consistently brought out the best in those around him.

Andrew’s many achievements in the criminal justice sector are evidence of the huge energy and tenacity he invested in the causes he supported, his ‘irresistible force’ being exactly what is required to help change a three hundred year old prison service for the better.

We have been very fortunate to have had Andrew’s counsel and leadership and will sorely miss his enormous enthusiasm, humour and humanity. Our thoughts are with his wife, Fiona, and children, Torie and Mark.

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Blue Sky Inside production

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in Blue Sky Inside, News.

10
Jun

 

We have just hit another milestone in the Stitch in Time workshop.

We have produced a massive 30,000 products since operations began. This grand total includes:

  • 19,642 Anya Hindmarch dustbags
  • 8,050 jewellery bags
  • 2,318 other products including table linen for Harris Loves, goodie bags for the Old Bailey fashion show, Bridget bags for ET Games and Nico Didonno’s goodie bags for London Fashion Week.

This figure does not include the fabulous outfits that we made for Sue Bonham’s fashion collection. Some of those 60 items can seen here at the Old Bailey fashion show.

Well done everyone, keep up the good work!

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Meet TEAM BLUE SKY

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in News, Triathlon.

6
Jun

John Leach, Steve Finn, Dave Golding and Malcolm Reilly are taking part in the London Triathlon on 3 August 2014 to raise money for Blue Sky. Here they talk about their work at Blue Sky and about their passions and motivations for putting their (middle-aged) bodies on the line for a charity and cause they care deeply about.

Who is John’s sporting hero? How will Steve celebrate completing the course? What’s Dave’s go-to motivational song? What’s Malcolm’s sporting claim to fame? Find out the answers to these and other questions below…

John Leach
    1. What’s your day-to-day role at Blue Sky? Helping run the in-prison manufacturing and through the gate support services of Blue Sky Inside

    2. Do you have a nick name at work (or at least one that you know about)? Pass [ed. Actually it’s Johnny L, quite tame really]

    3. What do you love most about your job?  Helping deliver something genuinely innovative in the women’s prison estate 

    4. Who is your sporting hero? Michael Lynagh

    5. Any sporting prowess or claims to fame yourself? Was in the top 90% for my age group in my last spring triathlon

    6. How are you approaching your training? May be starting to carb up a little early for the event in August

    7. What time are you hoping to achieve? August

    8. What song will be in your head to motivate you when the going gets tough? Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell  

    9. How will you celebrate completing the event? What are you looking forward to? Burning my tri suit

    10. Finally, why should people support you and Blue Sky?  Help make sense of an otherwise futile sporting gesture… Seriously, having been involved in various charities over the years, I have to say that what Blue Sky does is pretty special and it’s an honour for me to be part of the work they do

Steve Finn
  1. What’s your day-to-day role at Blue Sky? Teams Director, looking after all our operational teams out in the field – a position I’m extremely proud of having been Blue Sky’s very first ex-offender employee over 9 nine years ago

  2. Do you have a nick name at work (or at least one that you know about)? Finny

  3. What do you love most about your job? Dealing with clients

  4. Who is your sporting hero? Marvin Hagler

  5. Any sporting prowess or claims to fame yourself? 3 peaks

  6. How are you approaching your training? Head on

  7. What time are you hoping to achieve? Hoping to complete within the week

  8. What song will be in your head to motivate you when the going gets tough? Aces of Spaces by Motorhead

  9. How will you celebrate completing the event? What are you looking forward to?  Seeing my family at the finishing line and having a pint of Kronenbourg 1664

  10. Finally, why should people support you and Blue Sky? People should support Blue Sky not only for the good work we do engaging with the hardest to reach people in society but to know that their donation will go to help towards  ex-offenders making a real change to their lives

Dave Golding
  1. What’s your day-to-day role at Blue Sky? I am the Resettlement Officer so I look at onward employment for our employees, housing, and training which could help the individual into further employment through help with getting a driving licence, fork-lift training, CSCS cards, CPC  training etc

  2. Do you have a nick name at work (or at least one that you know about)?  Goldie

  3. What do you love most about your job?  Sorting out training and seeing the guys/girls move into fulltime employment or finding a permanent address for someone who is homeless

  4. Who is your sporting hero? Ayrton Senna the best driver ever

  5. Any sporting prowess or claims to fame yourself? Did a 40 mile bike ride for Chase Children’s Hospice and also did the Fleet Half Marathon after a dare at a Christmas party

  6. How are you approaching your training?  Trying to do all aspects of the event but trying to keep it fun. But this is proving difficult as not as fit as I thought I was

  7. What time are you hoping to achieve? Hope the team will be in time for tiffin or at least high tea

  8. What song will be in your head to motivate you when the going gets tough? The Benny Hill theme tune

  9. How will you celebrate completing the event? What are you looking forward to? Being pushed out of the hospital in my wheelchair and seeing the sun

  10. Finally, why should people support you and Blue Sky? Because we are a group of middle aged guys, not totally fit but having a go at something that lots of people talk about doing but never do. We know we will never win the event but we will finish it as a team and that what Blue Sky is about

Malcolm Reilly
  1. What’s your day-to-day role at Blue Sky?  Making sure all our teams are running smoothly. Employment of new recruits. Health and safety in the workplace. Buyer of machinery and hand tools. Running around like a headless chicken

  2. Do you have a nick name at work (or at least one that you know about)? Malcy

  3. What do you love most about your job? It’s only a five day week

  4. Who is your sporting hero? The legend. Alex Higgins Snooker player

  5. Any sporting prowess or claims to fame yourself? Winning a hula-hoop contest at Butlins in Minehead in 1984 (thought I’d better put the year)

  6. How are you approaching your training? By surprise

  7. What time are you hoping to achieve? Early evening

  8. What song will be in your head to motivate you when the going gets tough? Anything by Oasis

  9. How will you celebrate completing the event? What are you looking forward to? I will celebrate with a cheer and a laugh, and I will be looking forward to trying to get out of bed the next day…

  10. Finally, why should people support you and Blue Sky? Because this is a massive thing for me to achieve as I’ve never done anything like this before. We need your support to help others like Blue Sky helped me in 2009. Without Blue Sky’s help, I would never be doing a triathlon. Thank you!

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