The Foundation’s Chairman of Grants, John Hall, Deputy Chairman of Grants, Sophie Fernandes and Chief Executive, Richard Foley were joined by a party of distinguished guests to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex to the fashion training and manufacturing unit at HMP/YOI Downview on Thursday 30th November 2017.

The training unit hosts the ‘Making Change’ programme run by the London College of Fashion, UAL and co-funded by Sir John Cass’s Foundation. ‘Making Change’ is part of the Foundation’s efforts to support interventions which aim to reduce re-offending through education, up-skilling and the promotion of employability.

The Foundation has a longstanding partnership with the London College of Fashion, UAL’s social mission and is delighted to share the official press release from HRH The Countess of Wessex’s visit HMP/YOI Downview to see first-hand the transformational work the ‘Making Change’ programme achieves.

Further reading on the Foundation’s past collaboration with the London College of Fashion, UAL can be found in the series of “The Beauty’s Inside” publications here

HRH The Countess of Wessex, Patron of London College of Fashion, UAL attends the ‘Making for Change’ fashion training and manufacturing unit at HMP/YOI Downview

Earlier today (30 November 2017) HRH The Countess of Wessex, Patron of London College of Fashion, UAL attended the ‘Making for Change’ fashion training and manufacturing unit at HMP/YOI Downview. Underlining HRH’s commitment to London College of Fashion’s ethos of ‘Better Lives,’ which uses fashion as a discipline to drive change, build a sustainable future and improve the way we live, The Countess met staff and prisoners and awarded participants with certificates as part of their rehabilitative training programme.

Professor Frances Corner, Head of London College of Fashion, UAL said, “We know there is a critical shortage of technically skilled people within the UK fashion industry which is why Making for Change is so valuable. Not only does it address a recognised skills gap but it provides meaningful training to female offenders as part of their rehabilitation. We know that education is vital in giving people the opportunity to change their lives for the better. I am very grateful to our patron HRH The Countess of Wessex for returning to the unit today to see the incredible progress we have made since its inception in 2014 and to our funders Sir John Cass’s Foundation, the Pilgrim Trust and the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund who ensure Making for Change continues to thrive.”

Governor Robin Eldridge, HMP/YOI Downview Governor said, “I am delighted that HRH The Countess of Wessex was able to attend today’s event and want to thank my staff and London College of Fashion, UAL for their hard work on this important project.

“Making for Change is an excellent initiative which teaches women the vocational skills and broader education they need in preparation for release.

“We are committed to helping all of the women at Downview to turn their lives around. Making for Change helps women to enter the workplace and make a success of their lives and reduce the risk of re-offending.”

Making for Change is a fashion training and manufacturing unit established by the Ministry of Justice and London College of Fashion, UAL in 2014 at HMP Holloway; it moved to its new home of HMP Downview in summer 2016, where it nearly doubled in size. The project aims to increase well-being and reduce reoffending rates amongst participants by equipping them with professional skills and qualifications within a supportive environment.

Employment, when supported by appropriate education and training, is key to reducing reoffending in women, who make up just 5% of the prison population in the UK. There is a critical shortage of technically skilled people for fashion manufacturing roles in London and the UK. Making for Change aims to grow this workforce by delivering industry recognised qualifications to women at HMP Downview. London College of Fashion’s connections with manufacturers ensures that training reflects up-to-date production methods and techniques, as well as offering links to potential employers on release. The training also provides skills that can be used in the home for income generation through alterations and dress making in addition to freelance manufacture, allowing the women to work flexibly around their childcare requirements.

Despite a short break in production as a result of the move, the unit has continued to secure an increasing number of commercial contracts and increase production. The success of the unit has been down to a high level of attendance and commitment from the female offenders, and the dedication of the unit staff who help each woman fulfil their potential and gain qualifications – as well as produce high quality fashion products.

Each woman in the unit works towards gaining Level 1 and 2 ABC awards in Fashion & Textiles alongside working on the production of commercial orders, which provides participants with real work experience as part of their training. Since its inception 26 women have qualified to Level 1 and a further 5 are set to complete Level 2 by the end of this year (2017). The unit has also produced a graduate who was employed in fashion manufacturing on release proving the concept is successfully aiding the rehabilitation process.

The next stage for Making for Change, in collaboration with housing association Poplar HARCA, will be a vibrant, community-focused fashion training and manufacturing unit in the heart of east London. This will deliver accessible fashion programmes predominantly for women from marginalised community groups and female ex-offenders. The project is situated in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country that suffers with particularly high levels of female unemployment.

The project has been generously supported by Sir John Cass’s Foundation, the Pilgrim Trust and the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund.

IMAGES of the visit are available through the press association

IMAGES of the visit are available through the press association

Notes to Editors

London College of Fashion: Shaping Lives Through Fashion
London College of Fashion, UAL is a world leader in fashion design, media and business education. In boundary-pushing research where fashion intersects with science, engineering, and technology, and in enterprise, where it partners with top brands and helps launch new businesses. It has been nurturing creative talent for over a century, offering courses in all things fashion. Across every subject, it encourages students to examine the past and challenge the present. To have inventive, assertive ideas that challenge social and political agendas. It gives them the skills, opportunities – and above all, the freedom – to put those ideas into practice.

It starts with education, with over 70 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and 165 short courses. Students come from over 100 countries. Some learn fashion design – its heritage, craftsmanship, radical thinking and high-tech practice. Others develop analytical skill, creative thinking and business acumen. Others still: cutting-edge approaches to traditional, experiential, and interactive media. They all examine the present in light of its deep historical context. And learn how to use fashion to build a sustainable future, and improve the way we live.

LCF moves fashion forward, by looking beyond it. We partner with fashion’s most successful brands and labels – both high street and luxury. LCF graduates are in key positions across every dimension of the fashion industry, from established designers like Jimmy Choo OBE, Sophia Webster and JW Anderson to rising stars like Ryan Lo and respected entrepreneur and former Chairman of the British Fashion Council, Harold Tillman CBE as well as fashion journalists Melanie Rickey and Sarah Harris.

In the next five years, LCF are moving to a single site at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London. There we will continue to do what we do today. Pioneer how we all consume and practice fashion. Use fashion design, business and media to shape culture, economics, and society.

And through fashion, shape lives.