Gifted prisoners play key role in house-building award

The borough's prisoners have played their part in an innovative new house-building scheme which scooped an award for its groundbreaking production methods.

Friday, 8th June 2018, 11:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 11:27 am
Prisoners at Hindley jail have taking part in an innovative house-building scheme to provide inmates with new skills

HMP Hindley’s factory was chosen to build walls, floors and ceilings for eight bungalows for the Buttree Court estate in Wakefield.

And the project won Best Use of Off-site Technology in Affordable Housing at the Northern Housing Awards, thanks to the prison’s input.

The development was a partnership between Together Housing and Osco Homes, providing opportunities for inmates to develop new skills and get the offenders ready for work, significantly reducing re-offending and the associated cost to the public purse.

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Ex-offender Michael, who is now employed full time by Osco Homes, said: “Working on The Lockies was a great experience and it meant a lot to me to be involved.

“Since I’ve been released, I’ve started work for Osco using the new rendering skills I learnt on the project – it’s given me something to focus on.

“I’ve been inside a few times in my life and I think if something like this had been available earlier, it would’ve changed my decision making and I wouldn’t have re-offended.”

Kevin Ruth, deputy chief executive of Together Housing, said: “As one of the largest social landlords in the north of England, we are conscious that traditional building methods alone are not enough to meet the ever-increasing demand for affordable housing.

“By investing in innovative techniques such as this where large parts of the houses are manufactured in a factory then reassembled on site, this will assist us to build homes quicker and more cost effectively.”

In addition to transforming a former eyesore into a development of high quality, affordable homes for local residents, Buttree Court has also helped reduce reoffending. Upon release, four prisoners who worked on the scheme were employed by OSCO Homes and four secured employment elsewhere.

Training inmates so that they have skills on release from Hindley Prison is not a new concept.

A number of former prisoners walked straight into jobs with Leigh construction firm Hughes Brothers for instance after it identified suitable candidates still serving their sentences and trained them up inside.

Evidence shows there is a much reduced risk of re-offending if an ex-inmate can immediately find a job.