'Don't Write Us Off'

 This is the determined request from the Governor, Robin Eldridge, on behalf of the women residents at the prison, where all of the extensive team of staff, teachers and specialist partners support his goal of “Changing The Lives of Women – for Good”. To achieve this goal, an impressive curriculum of activities is constantly being enhanced to provide training and life-changing opportunities through partners such as the London College of Fashion, Max Speilman Academy and the Clink restaurant/production kitchen project. I was given a thought-provoking, enlightening and positive introduction to HMP Downview by experienced Custodial Managers, Hannah Fielder and James Abbott, who ensured that I was able to meet a superb artist (brilliant mural!); an expert baker (I have been promised a gluten-free victoria sandwich cake on my next visit!) and enjoy a tea break with experienced residents who were able to explain just how important all of the activities were. I also met two of the ‘Listeners Team’, all inmates trained to a high and exacting standard (by the Samaritans) providing constant support and counselling to individuals whenever required – a service recognised  by staff and residents alike, as being very effective. It was clear that the chance to become involved in such a trusted and important role was equally valued by the two individuals themselves. Changing lives indeed!