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Life is transformed inside prison walls

DMU Local and student volunteers are helping to transform the lives of inmates at Leicester.

A unique partnership between HMP Leicester and DMU Local saw more than 40 student volunteers put in 650 hours of volunteering in a series of projects at the prison last year.

In the past 12 months that has included…

  • A revamp of the prison visitors’ room devised by university interior design student Harriet Calland, with decoration work undertaken by student volunteers;
  • Student volunteers gift-wrapping 100 DMU-donated teddy bears so inmates were able to give their children a Christmas present;
  • Creative Arts festival hosted at the prison with staff and student showcases;
  • Workshops involving inmates and DMU staff and students in a series of subject areas;
  • And a workshop for prisoners to give them an insight into the music industry and the opportunity for a career after leaving the jail.

Before this year, projects included…

•    The construction of a memorial garden honouring a much-loved member of the prison staff;
•    A concert by the DMU String Orchestra, which is thought to be one of the first staged behind bars in the UK;
•    And a performance by the DMU Gospel Choir.

The projects were launched in mid-2016 after a damning report by the prisons watchdog, the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, at the start of that year.

The work has been credited with helping turn round the prison’s fortunes after that report. There has been a 21 per cent reduction in the violence and the prison is now in the top 50 performers after languishing well outside that mark for many years.