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Teaching Fashion Skills in Prisons Today – An Untapped Market – Talking to SKY News


Since 2017 Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL) has actively engaged with teaching support and courses for HMPS (His Majesty’s Prison Service) trainers and inmates.

FEL’s HMPS Train the Trainer courses provides clear support and instruction on working with industrial sewing and cutting machines. The courses include up-to-the-minute health and safety information with live, practical demonstrations and the opportunity to demonstrate understanding through observation and participation.

Feedback from previous attendees on our 2-day HMPS Train the Trainer courses included: 

“I have increased knowledge. This will enable me to complete my role more effectively.”

“I gained a better understanding of how to lay fabric and of how to use the Eastman knife, plus knock on affect of bad cutting practices.”

“Really good instructors Ana and Chris showed very good knowledge to pass on to us.”

“I was nervous prior to the course starting, but the tutors helped me relax, so I got the most from the course.”

According to the latest data from GOV.UK:

The Open University states that studies reveal that prisoners who take part in educational programmes while in prison are less likely to reoffend and return to prison after release. Other benefits include individuals being engaged in purposeful learning activities that can help improve well-being and is likely to generate a more positive atmosphere.

Since 2019 FEL has also worked with the Behind Bras Fashion Foundation, an initiative that supports and provides learning and employment opportunities for serving and former female prisoners.

The fashion production skills shortage and the training of inmates was recently highlighted on SKY News UK in a feature titled: ‘Inside the prisons training up British fashion workers’ from reporter Mickey Carroll. Mickey had visited FEL back in November to cover the opening of the United Repair Centre at FEL’s Haringey HQ. During her visit she spotted individuals from HMPS being trained in cutting and set up another interview with FEL Founder, Jenny Holloway, to discuss the skills shortage, inmate training, and employment opportunities upon release. Jenny’s interview features in this short clip in amongst footage from the London College of Fashion and its training and production facility at Downview women’s prison.

Tap here to view the short SKY News UK video aired on 16th February 2024

FEL Founder and CEO Jenny Holloway comments: “The skill shortages in the fashion industry are well documented, however that’s exactly why we established our FCFTA.com technical academy for skills such as stitching and pattern making. 

“FEL would have no hesitation in employing people that have undertaken a custodial sentence and acquired stitching skills during this time, however we would test them on line beforehand and offer additional teaching support.  

“In the past we did engage with HMP Bronzefield and employ an apprentice too that was an ex-offender. FEL has employed a wide cross section of machinists over the past 18-years with diverse ethnicity, and currently there are 12 different nationalities on our production lines.  We celebrate and welcome this diversity.  

“Currently we are seeing a huge increase in the demand for stitching skills too – we are 500% up over three years with our contract with Capital City Group and every time we provide short courses for repairs, upcycling and recycling they are packed! There is definitely a sustainability movement occurring now whereby it’s cool to buy second hand and it’s even more acceptable to adapt and change a garment so it fits perfectly!”  

For more information on FEL’s training and courses please visit its educational division Fashion Technology Academy which can offer short workshops to roll-on Level 1 and 2 courses in Stitching and Patterns.

For enquiries contact: education@fashion-enter.com

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