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A Royal celebration of skills and rehabilitation at HMP Pentonville

A Royal celebration of skills and rehabilitation at HMP Pentonville

On Thursday 11th May, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, president of skills development organisation, City & Guilds, attended an event at HMP Pentonville showcasing skills innovation in prisons.  

Representatives from a range of organisations supporting the prisoner population to unlock hidden talents joined City & Guilds, including The Butler Trust, Co-op and Network Rail, Bounce Back and Groundwork. They came together alongside leaders from other prisons seeking to bring new thinking around prisoner rehabilitation and training to their own institutions. 

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds, said:

“We ran this event to showcase the power of skills in accessing sustainable employment and reducing reoffending. Reoffending has a personal and profound cost to the individuals involved but it also costs the economy approximately £18.1bn every year.  Evidence shows that upskilling prisoners so that they can gain sustainable employment upon release, together with stable accommodation and support, is the most effective way to counter reoffending. We want to celebrate best practice in this area and work with employers and prisons to leverage the power of skills development in both reducing reoffending and changing lives.” 

At the event, The Princess Royal spoke about the wide range of individuals and organisations who work in partnership to create bridges into sustainable employment. The Princess Royal went on to describe the golden thread for those leaving prison and not returning is made up of acquiring skills relevant to a job. 

At the event City & Guilds showcased the transformative role of innovative and quality training in prison, highlighting some of the latest training tools being used at an exhibition featuring four innovative projects funded by City & Guilds Foundation. 

Bounce Back, a charity and social enterprise focussed on training and employment of ex-offenders, presented a virtual reality headset which is being used to prepare prisoners and ex-offenders for in-demand jobs in construction on release. HMP Hull and HMP Humber presented their simulator technology which is delivering high-quality digital construction and land-based skills in an innovative way. Groundwork, a federation of charities mobilising practical community action on poverty and the environment across the UK, were in attendance discussing how construction and carbon literacy training can be used in prisons to support the economy towards a greener future. And finally, HMP Highpoint presented their rail track for skills innovation programme, ‘Stay on track to train your mind’ – which allows learners to complete flexible courses as part of DfE Bootcamp funding and ultimately sees them go on to gain employment in the rail sector.  

The event also featured a panel session with speakers from the Ministry of Justice, former prisoners, charity workers and employers, on the value of skills and employment. 

City & Guilds are committed to helping people from all walks of life, equipping them with the vital skills and capabilities they need to find a job, progress within that job and go on to enjoy a stable career.  

The City & Guilds Future Skills Commission for Prisons was set up with the aim of identifying and activating practical ways for offenders to build skills and get a job upon release. The Commission acts as a vehicle for the City & Guilds Foundation to support inspirational organisations who are delivering innovative programmes that support offenders to build the skills and move into employment. 

At the time of launching the Future Skills Commission for Prisons in 2019, City & Guilds also set up its £1m Big Idea Fund to inspire UK charities, prison Governors and social innovators to develop transformative approaches to support former offenders in developing the skills they need to find employment. As the initial funded programmes are fully underway, another round of funding has been approved by the City & Guilds Foundation Committee and applications for those interested will be opening up in the beginning of June.  

City & Guilds works with over 120 prisons in England and Wales to support more than 60,000 learners a year in the adult and youth estate. The results speak for themselves, as in the first year, The Clink charity reduced reoffending to just 10% (compared to the national average of 47%).  

For more information on how City & Guilds and the City & Guilds Foundation are supporting skills development in prisons please visit 

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