The Justice Minister today praised the efforts of those individuals working with prisoners as he launched a social enterprise project for young offenders at Hydebank Wood.
‘Mugshots’ allows young people to design high-quality promotional items such as mugs, T-shirts, eco bags and mousemats which will then be sold on to corporate clients and the wider public, with any profits made reinvested in the enterprise.
‘Mugshots’ is part of a wider programme called Quest which concentrates on training and developing young people in the key employment skills increasingly demanded by prospective employers. The small prison enterprise was set up and is run by Advantage, assisted by Prison Service staff, and was established with the help of funding from The Big Lottery Fund.
In launching the project the Minister said: “It is evident that if we wish to reduce crime and make our communities safer, then we must work constructively with prisoners to reduce their offending behaviour. Many young offenders being sent to prison have few, if any, qualifications and while in our care it is incumbent on us to give them the appropriate opportunities and skills to allow them make a positive contribution to their communities when released.
“This initiative provides young people with a unique opportunity to build up a range of transferable skills which will be valued by potential employers. Participating in the initiative will also build confidence and give a sense of pride and achievement to these young people and allow them to face the world upon release with renewed hope and self belief."
The Minister praised the importance of partnership working and stressed its importance in bringing the initiative to fruition.
He said: “Partnership working plays an increasingly important role in the workings of the Prison Service and here again we see a true manifestation of what can be accomplished when we come together. Had it not been for the Big Lottery Fund, Advantage and the support of the business sector this venture would never have happened and I thank all those people and the staff at Hydebank Wood who have helped make this a reality.
“I also wish to thank the young people working on ‘Mugshots’. You should grasp this chance you have been given with open arms and make this venture a real success. With your enthusiasm I’ve no doubt that it will be.”
During his visit the Minister was given a ‘walk-through’ of the process involved from graphic design to final printed item and he was presented with a specially made mug, incorporating the DOJ logo.
Notes to editors:
1. The Social Enterprise at Hydebank Wood has key aims of:
generating income by selling goods and services;
making a difference in relation to the lives and futures of the young people it is designed to support; and
reinvesting the profits made.