Not your typical women’s prison, Askham Grange has the lowest rate in the country of released prisoners re-offending, thanks to its comprehensive learning and development programme that empowers them to overcome their past and create a better future. Read about Anita and Rebekah’s trip to meet some of the ladies who are staying there…
Curricula & Co’s founding director Anita Frost met Charlotte Harker, the head of education and development at Askham Grange Women’s Prison at a networking event. A magnet for inspiration, Anita was amazed at the work that is being done at the facility to rehabilitate female offenders towards a successful transition back into the community. Likewise, Charlotte was intrigued by the work Anita does in employability and entrepreneurship.
In true Curricula and Co spirit, the two leaders came together to create an opportunity for the ladies Charlotte mentors and leads to meet with Anita and be encouraged and inspired to keep moving forward and pursuing their dreams despite their pasts, and any other odds.
When Anita presented the opportunity to join her on this trip, I said yes without hesitation. For me to have the opportunity to address a group of people is absolutely incredible. With my written skills being greater than my verbal skills, I would have been easily justified in turning this down, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something new and push my boundaries.
After a lovely car ride, where Anita and I exchanged stories of our most recent personal and professional victories, we were pleasantly surprised to find that this did not look or feel like a stereotypical prison. There were no grey concrete walls, iron bars, or barbed wire...instead, we found ourselves in the grounds of a beautiful stately home with lush grass, swaying trees, and singing birds!
HMP/YOI Askham Grange is located in the North East Yorkshire and Humberside region. It is a low-security prison, sometimes called an ‘open’ prison. It is unique, and a truly special place, as it houses a state-of-the-art rehabilitation programme centred on skills-based education, learning, training and personal development. As part of the comprehensive learning programme that sets it apart from other institutions, the aim is to create an individual development strategy starting from the induction of a resident, setting achievable targets for individuals to work towards as they prepare for their release.
What’s more, opportunities are available for the ladies to do voluntary and paid work placements in the local community.
When we met Charlotte inside, she took us on a tour of the educational facility. This includes a fully stocked library, an IT suite, and a beauty salon setting where the ladies could learn professional hair dressing, nail art, and facials. We got to see some of the artwork created by some of them, which included an embroidered quilt!
Askham Grange was built in 1868 for Sir Andrew Fairbairn as a country house. Sir Fairbairn was a man of many talents - he owned a successful factory business in Leeds, was an MP and a philanthropist. He also spent some time as a soldier. This magnificent building was passed down through the generations until 1939, when its current owner died. After being given over to the government by his widow, it was turned into a women’s prison in 1947.
Right now, the prison provides conferencing facilities for businesses that can host up to 120 people. The services are run and operated by the residents. This is just one of the ways the facility contributes to the community and helps its residents to do so as well.
Tune in next week for more updates on Curricula & Co’s visit to Askham Grange…