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HMP Dartmoor Prisoners complete Social Enterprise Qualification

By 27th January 2015 No Comments

Social enterprise is being studied in a brand new setting that sees the ground-breaking Social Enterprise Qualification delivered to prisoners in HMP Dartmoor.

EDP Drug & Alcohol Services is currently delivering the qualification to groups of learners from HMP Dartmoor, which aims to accredit social enterprise learning. The learners successfully completed the qualification at Bronze level, a Level 1 on the Qualifications Credit Framework, which involves the setting up and running of a one-off social enterprise activity.

Learners from HMP Dartmoor created their own products which they then sold at a ‘pop up shop’ in the prison and at EDPs Head Office. Proceeds went to a cause that was close to their heart. One group decided to create their own key rings from matchsticks and stone ornaments, which they sold on-site, and gave all proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Trust to raise awareness of the hard work by Macmillan palliative care nurses. Some of the money also went to The Zone in Plymouth, an organisation that offers advice, support and guidance to young people. They identified that more needed to be done for young people in their community and wanted to support youth services.

The second group also created their own products, including photo frames made from matchsticks and handmade cards and illustrations. Some of the group previously had mental health concerns and a portion of the money they raised from the sale of their products went to Mind Mental Health Services. Another chosen organisation which was supported through the SEQ in the prison was a childcare centre in Falmouth. The learners had limited resources to create their products in their setting and what they did produce demonstrates their initiative, a great example of talented entrepreneurs.

Through undertaking the unique qualification, the prisoners also gained useful entrepreneurial skills which will be pivotal to them finding employment on release from prison.

Leon, a prisoner in HMP Dartmoor, successfully gained the qualification and then helped to facilitate another group of prisoners undertaking the SEQ. He said, “I thought it was a good idea to raise awareness of a charity that means something to me. With so many government cutbacks, organisations working in the youth sector are stretched. I believe most problems grow from difficulties faced in formative years, and things can quickly spiral out of control. More access to advice, information and services should be available.”

Liam, a prisoner in HMP Dartmoor who successfully gained the SEQ, said, “I thought SEQ was a very useful qualification. Raising money through social enterprise can only do good. It gives students the chance to express creativity and express a passion for an important cause. Making products is enjoyable, and the marketing aspect of the course can be used beyond the course. The course is well-structured and easy to follow. It would be great to see this programme rolled out further. I found being able to talk to customers and using my degree in illustration very fun and engaging. It will inform work I will produce when I start my illustration freelance practice again in the near future.”

Caroline Serpell, Resettlement Worker at HMP Dartmoor, said, “I have loved having a new project that I can really get stuck into and to give prisoners the chance to explore what they are really passionate about and raise awareness of this across the prison and the community. I can’t wait to see what comes next with SEQ and what else we can achieve with it at Dartmoor Prison.”

The Social Enterprise Qualification was developed by the Real Ideas Organisation in partnership with SFEDI Awards in 2011, before its official launch in 2012. The SEQ is available at Bronze, Silver and Gold, which are a Level 1 award, Level 2 award and Level 2 certificate respectively on the QCF. The SEQ equips learners with the knowledge of a social enterprise and what it does, and encourages people to use their newfound social enterprise knowledge to address an environmental or social issue. It is a global qualification which is undertaken by a range of settings, including schools, housing associations, youth justice centres, and most recently premier football clubs and prisons.

EDP is now looking to deliver the SEQ in other prisons they are working with in Dorset and Devon, and their staff are being trained to deliver the qualification to those who are preparing to leave prison, in order to equip them with transferable enterprise skills as they look for future employment.

Some products the prisoners created as part of their SEQ

Some products the prisoners created as part of their SEQ

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