A groundbreaking link-up between De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and the city’s prison has helped transform the fortunes of the once-troubled jail.
HMP Leicester, which was the focus of a damning report by the prisons watchdog the HM Inspectorate of Prisons at the start of 2016, has surged up the league table for UK jails in the latest figures compiled by the Ministry of Justice.
Academics and students from the university have been involved in a series of altruistic projects inside the prison walls, which Phil Novis, HMP Leicester Governor, believes have helped foster a new spirit in a jail which had been dogged by violence, overcrowding and drug abuse.
#DMUlocal projects have included:
- Workshops involving inmates and DMU staff and students in different subject areas;
- The construction of a memorial garden honouring a much-loved member of the prison staff;
- Creative Arts festival hosted at the Prison with DMU staff and students showcases;
- A concert by the DMU String Orchestra, which is thought to be one of the first staged;
- A revamp of the prison visitors’ room devised by DMU interior design student Harriet Calland, with decoration work undertaken by student volunteers.
“The impact of the partnership is impossible to measure with metrics, but I have no doubt they are indelibly linked. They go hand in hand. With the help of De Montfort University, we have been able to create a feeling of community in the prison.
“The events have helped make prisoners feel part of a community, and feel part of Leicester. It has enabled them to think of something else but violence and drugs.” Phil Novis, HMP Leicester Governor.
After the success at HMP Leicester, #DMUlocal is starting to deliver new projects with HMP Gartree, HMP Bronzefield and HMP Stocken.
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