October 2, 2017
Transforming the Environment: HMP High Down
Our funded pilot project, which was part of the Ministry of Justice’s Reform Prison programme, “Improving the prison environment” in HMP High Down was completed in September 2017.
The project involved a number of inmates in the painting and decorating of various rooms including the homework room and listening room. The participants themselves were the designers of the redecoration in every respect and the process consisted of three intensive group planning sessions as well as personal in cell work. Participants chose the colours and concepts, putting forward ideas for special features such as the blackboard pillar in the Homework Club Room. This involvement created a sense of shared ownership and accountability to the prison community as a whole.
The results were highly effective and all of the rooms were further enhanced by the talented artist, Federica Ciotti whose amazing murals brought each room to life.
In addition to improving the atmosphere of the “Listening Room” – a private space where prisoners can “off load” to a trained fellow inmate “Listener”, the Homework Club Room was also completely transformed.
The purpose of the Homework Club redesign was to create a welcoming environment which would reduce the trauma of coming into a prison environment for visiting children and increase the quality of time spent with their father. The goal was to create an environment which was visually stimulating and interactive: an “oasis” in the prison complex which would meet the needs of all users. Featuring an exquisitely drawn “Evolution Wall” and an amazing “Interactive map of the world” the result was quite overwhelming.
The feedback from all the families is so positive. They are really grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with their children in such a friendly environment” – Prison staff working with Families and visitors
Federica and her “Evolution Wall”