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Maghaberry inmates rebuilding wheelchairs for world's most needy areas

By Allan Preston

Published 10/10/2016

Robert Jones and Ray Allen from charity, Medaid4kids, watch as prisoners in Maghaberry restore wheelchairs to be shipped abroad
Robert Jones and Ray Allen from charity, Medaid4kids, watch as prisoners in Maghaberry restore wheelchairs to be shipped abroad
A prisoner works to restore a wheel

Prisoners in Maghaberry are restoring hundreds of broken wheelchairs to be sent to warn-torn nations around the world.

Up to a dozen inmates in the high security jail are taking part in the charity scheme, using basic handtools to repair wheelchairs discarded by the NHS before they are shipped to countries around the world.

Maghaberry Prison Governor Stephen Davis said: "Each month around 80-100 wheelchairs are restored by prisoners and sent to countries including Romania, Malawi and even Thailand, Libya and Syria. "The wheelchairs have been deemed obsolete by the NHS. But in the workshop, prisoners will steam wash them, strip them back, rebuild, restore and even repaint them."

The initiative is supported by the charities Medaid4kids, Bike Aid for Africa, Tell Romania and Faith in Action Missions. After the work is done the wheelchairs are transported in shipping containers to nations outside the EU.

Mr Davis added: "There's a lot of good work done by the prisoners in the wheelchair workshop.

"The work is both educational and therapeutic for prisoners and helps build on rehabilitation and preventing re-offending, which will ultimately help in the future to make our communities safer.

"We've had quite a number of letters back from individuals and hospitals on the other side of the world and, for staff and prisoners, it makes them realise how much their work really is appreciated."

After visiting Maghaberry, Robert Jones, chairman of Medaid4kids, said: "The work by prisoners in the wheelchair workshop is tremendous and has given hope to people in areas of the world where they believed there was none.

"During a recent trip to Libya I witnessed first-hand the real need for wheelchairs and walking aids.

"The people who receive them are very, very grateful and always ask me to pass on their gratitude to the Governor, prison staff and the men who have provided the wheelchairs for them."

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