Fine Cell Work is a UK based charity that trains prisoners to ‘build fulfilling and crime-free lives’ by creating high quality needlework in the long hours spent in their cells.
Fine Cell Work currently operates in 32 British prisons and works with around 500 prisoners each year. The work they undertake helps them to foster hope, self esteem and discipline and allows them to leave prison with a skill they can use as well as the self belief not to re-offend.
Fine Cell Work has the largest workforce of hand-stitchers in Europe – 290 at any one time, and counting. Last year 4,870 products were made in prisons across the UK. Prisoners spend an average of 24 hours a week crafting finely embroidered cushions, patchwork quilts, a range of contemporary bags and giftware in their cells.
The charity includes Cath Kidston and Emma Soames among their Trustees and Kaffe Fassett and Dame Judi Dench among their trustees. Produced both in-cell and in-prison workshops, this intricate, beautiful work is supported by esteemed artists and designers including Pentreath and Hall, Kit Kemp, Cornelia Parker, Ai Weiwei and Melissa Wyndham.
What is incredible to read if the testimonies from prisoners who have been part of the Fine Cell Work programme. On their blog one story of an inmate named Tony said ‘It’s not just about the sewing and getting paid which some might suggest is the motivation – nor is it about filling sometimes long and arduous hours of free time, though that is true for some. No, what I find most gratifying about FCW is that my efforts are not judged in the light of my crimes, nor the fact that I am in prison, but rather on their own merits – the artistry, the attention to detail and the aesthetic pleasure they give to people’.
Products stitched by the inmates can be purchased from the Fine Cell Work website. They also have a pop up shop on Pimlico Road you can visit too.
Head over to the Fine Cell Work website to see how you can support them and read more about the inspiring work they do.