THE Duchess of Northumberland has visited HMP Northumberland as part of a new partnership between the prison and her Alnwick Garden tourist attraction, which has seen a group of prisoners refurbishing and renovating 24 of the garden’s benches and its chairs.
The project, which is in its first year, allows inmates to give something back to the community and develop a number of skills in the process, as well as reducing their likelihood of reoffending.
The initiative came about following a visit to HMP Northumberland by the attraction’s head gardener Trevor Jones, who called in to see the prison’s horticultural set-up.
The duchess was happy to support the link up and called in at the prison herself to see it in action.
She said: “I am delighted The Alnwick Garden and HMP Northumberland are working together on the garden benches and seats. These have been renovated to the highest of standards and I am extremely grateful for all the hard work the inmates have done to transform the garden furniture which will, again, take pride of place in The Alnwick Garden.”
Since the project to get prisoners involved in giving back to their communities began in 2000, HMP Northumberland has worked towards creating opportunities for prisoners, enabling them to offer something to the community, while gaining skills and interests in various fields. Matt Spencer, governor of HMP Northumberland, said: “I am delighted that staff and prisoners at HMP Northumberland have been able to assist in this bench restoration project.
“For prisoners to be able to give something back to the community is important to show them that they can be valued and useful members of society – members of society who give and don’t just take.
“In this case they donated their hard work, time and effort to make the lives of local people just that little bit more enjoyable.
“Hopefully thinking of others in this way will help them stop or at least reduce their likelihood of reoffending when they are released which is one of the reasons why HMP Northumberland exists.”
HMP Northumberland formed following a merger of HMPs Acklington and Castington last year. It can house up to 1,348 prisoners and is a category C male prison.