Belfast Telegraph

Jailbirds and real birds are a healthy mix for elderly inmates at a Northern Ireland prison

By Staff Reporter

Elderly inmates at a Northern Ireland prison are being introduced to horticulture and bird-keeping as part of a new rehabilitation and healthier life-style project.

Dozens of prisoners aged between 50 and 79 at Magilligan are being encouraged to grow vegetables and flowers in a recreation area that also houses an aviary.

Potatoes, carrots and leeks are among the vegetables being grown in raised wooden garden boxes to give prisoners, and especially those in wheelchairs, easy access. In the aviary - built by the prisoners - budgies, cockatiels, finches and quail are also being cared for.

Magilligan Prison governor Gary Milling said: "Social isolation and loneliness are real issues for many senior prisoners and can often lead to mental health issues.

"But by encouraging a more active, physical lifestyle, we can help ward off or lessen some of the health challenges."

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