Manchester’s legal community turned out in their droves to support a prisoner rehabilitation charity on Thursday 16 June, despite the fact it clashed with the England V Wales Euro 2016 match.
Personal injury law firm, Express Solicitors, and Cobden House Barristers Chambers organised the fundraising event to support Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise and charity that trains prisoners in skilled and creative needlework that can be done during the long hours they spend in their cells.
More than 100 people from the legal sector including barristers, solicitors and judges turned out to support the event.
Over £3000 worth of prisoners’ needlework was sold on the day and there were three personal commissions for bespoke needle point cushions, which will involve over 200 hours of stitching each. Another £500 was raised from raffle ticket sales to win a stunning 1.72 diamond worth over £18,000 (the draw will be held at the end of the year). In addition, Express Solicitors has sponsored a prisoner for a Fine Cell Work apprenticeship.
Speakers at the event included Fine Cell Work’s Workshops and Training Manager – Wendy Cramer and former prisoner – Martin who spoke of his experience in prison and how the project gave him hope for his future.
Martin told the group that through the charity he learned stitching skills, which led to a role in a prison workshop where he was paid his needlework. On his release, the skills Martin acquired in prison led to employment as a stitcher in a bed factory and outside of work he has gradually rebuilt his life and re-established relationships with his family. He told the attendees: “If it wasn’t for Fine Cell Work, I wouldn’t be here today.”
On hearing about the excellent support given to prisoners by Fine Cell Work, Richard Hartley QC from Cobden House and Sharon Denby, partner at Express Solicitors arranged the charity event to raise both awareness and funds.
Denby said: “We were delighted with the great turnout! The weather was horrendous and England was playing Wales that day, but the legal community didn’t let us down – work was sold, commissions were made and we raised £3,500 for this worthwhile cause.
“The money raised will help charity continue its core work of helping prisoners stitch to a better future. In addition, it will allow Fine Cell Work to support its trainees in further training and work on release from prison.”
Fine Cell Work runs rehabilitation projects in 30 prisons to foster hope, discipline and self-belief, help prisoners connect to society and also leave prison with the confidence and financial means to stop offending.