Our Current Work

In 2017, the Friends launched an appeal for funds to build a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) in HMP Erlestoke.  This is our most ambitious project since we started the charity and we continue to fundraise and work with the prison to make this a reality.

There is a universal awareness of the benefits of sport, teamwork, fresh air and exercise as evidenced in Professor Rosie Meek’s August 2018 report, ‘A Sporting Chance – an independent review of sport in prisons’ .

The report was commissioned by the government and recognised that sport can directly contribute to efforts to reduce violence in prison and reoffending, particularly by providing a route into education and employment. 
 
The MUGA will have the potential for inter-unit competitions and multiple sporting activities for individuals and teams. It will also have the potential to be used for family days providing opportunities to strengthen relationships between prisoners and their families. We believe that the MUGA project is even more relevant now than before the pandemic because of the negative impact of lockdown on prisoner health and mental well-being.

A Transport Service for offenders’ families and friends which provides transport on visit days from Westbury Station and Devizes town centre to the prison and back again.

We now support the StoryBook Dads initiative in HMP Erlestoke which helps parents and family members in prison to record bedtime stories for their children, nephews, nieces and grandchildren on CDs or DVDs; these are then sent to the child. This brings comfort to them as they can hear or see their parent whenever they need to. It shows them they are loved and missed as well as helping them to develop an interest in books and reading. This increases their chances of succeeding at school and significantly improving their social and learning outcomes. Enabling an imprisoned parent to maintain contact with their child improves prisoners’ self-esteem and reduces the likelihood of re-offending, as well helping with their childs well-being. 

Since July 2023, we have once more been providing weekly Art Workshops for prisoners who wish to experiment with different media and build a portfolio of art. The workshops also help prisoners to build confidence in social interaction through debates with peers in the art studio. As always, we are impressed by the creativity and quality of the artwork being produced, often from prisoners who have never attempted artwork before. 

Our origami group meet in the Education department on Friday mornings. Launched in 2017 under the direction of Helen Holtam, the group continues to produce origami cards and models which are sold on Helen’s Origami Inside website to generate funds for the Friends.

It is a small but productive group; last year they raised just over £3,500 and since 2017 have raised over £25,000. The HMP Erlestoke Governor chose to use the group’s origami cards last Christmas. Similarly, the Prisons Minister and four other Justice Ministers chose the origami penguin card for their Christmas cards. So, please visit Origami Inside and browse the products – you may find the perfect card for someone!

Examples of our Past Work

A joint venture with Victim Support to create a large mosaic which depicts the impact of crime on victims. A small group of offenders and victims worked together with a mosaic artist, Maylee Christie, to develop the mosaic. The final artwork now hangs in a prominent position in the prison for all visitors, staff and offenders to view. This project was match funded by the Devizes Area Board.

Funding of the ‘Resettlement into Open Conditions’ courses for offenders moving to Cat D establishments.

Equipment for Health Trainers who provide peer support on health and wellbeing issues.

Yoga classes for offenders to help with anger management, relaxation and general well being, in conjunction with the Phoenix Trust.

Art classes to develop prisoners’ creative talents and help with self expression, improved self esteem and a sense of achievement.

Several drama workshops to assist offenders with self confidence and building self esteem.

Drumming equipment for music therapy sessions in the chapel.

Sourcing and arranging monthly guest speakers for the ‘older prisoner’ group.