Glad Rags: A Creative Project for Ex-Offenders

The difference the project has made to the people involved:

This project was an additional ‘bolt on’ dimension to the GOING HOME Project, which is a lottery funded project providing support to Welsh women ex-offenders. The intention of the project was to engage women and to increase their skills and creativity by developing opportunities for peer mentors/volunteers who have an interest in clothing. The project sourced and supported 15 women volunteers who had experienced the Criminal Justice System. These Women who wanted to develop their skills, and provide support to other women who were accessing support from the GOING HOME Project, and felt that their contribution would be of benefit to a wider community. The cohort of volunteers accessed the following skills training workshops:
  • Introduction to volunteering with Glad Rags – basic information on meetings, team work, what is expected and what can be expected in return.
  • Photography – to provide a basic understanding of using a camera, maximising the use of lighting etc.
  • Sewing – the basic principles of threading and using a sewing machine, different stitches etc.
  • Communication – hints and tips on structuring telephone calls, recording information, claiming expenses, attending meetings and getting your point heard.
  • Business skills – branding and generating income from Glad Rags to sustain its future
  • Personal development and positive thinking – discussions take place each week at volunteer meetings to promote positive attitudes, goal setting, and personal development.
Each session has clear guidance, providing the attendees with a list of learning outcomes. The volunteers have provided over 332 voluntary hours; as volunteers, they benefit from weekly non-formal learning and an opportunity to practise their skills in a safe and non-judgemental environment. The volunteers have gained a range of new skills and have increased their confidence. The project has created opportunities of real empowerment. The volunteers have taken ownership of the project and led on themes for group days. The volunteers organise the days with specific themes in which volunteers research and present to share skills. For example:
  • Making Christmas/birthday cards – making things that provide a personal touch as gifts, and on a budget.
  • Jewellery making – making earrings, flower brooches and accessories
  • Make-up sessions – applying make-up
  • Understanding and dressing for your body shape – hand outs were developed by the volunteers and shared with attendees to provide ideas on dressing to body shape.
  • Accessorising clothing and styling – how to glam-up clothes, and styling (a look hand out was provided)
  • Wellness – providing information on nutrition and diet.

Forest of Dean Business Women's Network (FBWN)

The Forest Business Women's Network is a network of both fledgling and established companies within and around the Forest of Dean. This was set up to provide support and a point of contact; our aim is to promote the professionalism and increase the stature of women in business in the area.

Gill, the MD of Gibran UK, has been invited on two occasions to speak with the women about the impact of imprisonment on women and their families.

FBWN has been kind enough to support the Glad Rags project by providing work wear for women and more recently men.

Through their Chairperson Sarah Whiddett, we have also received toiletries, which we give to prisoners on their day of release from prison – to make their Discharge grant of approximately £42 last a little longer until their benefit claims come through.

We have had offers of support from the members to deliver training sessions in art, jewellery making and upcycling clothes. We are grateful for their support.

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