Prisoners ex-cell in new business venture at HMP Coldingley

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Steve Head, Horticulture Tutor at HMP Coldingley, and his team of students have been developing and planning the launch of a new horticulture business based within the prison. The business offers up-cycled garden products to the general public made from pallet wood and washing machine drums, along with the more conventional garden produce, shrubs and vegetables.

Called EX-CELL, with the tag line ‘Developing opportunities, EX-CELLing in the future’, the new business will use the co-operative business format. The money made from selling its products will go directly back into the business to continue the rehabilitation of those currently in prison via education and the development of meaningful skills. EX-CELL uses the model of a small horticulture business as a medium to train individuals in practical horticulture skills, customer service, retail skills, business administration, team leading, business management, marketing, accounting and business planning. More courses are planned for the future as the business develops.

All of EX-CELL’s products will be available to the public via a new shop outside the prison and the demand via pre-launch orders is high. During a recent trial sales event, the project sold £209 of stock in 20 minutes!

Steve said, “There has always been a demand within the prison for the plants that are produced by the students on the course and I have always felt it was a natural thing to organise the horticulture course around the garden centre model. The demand for product combined with the new autonomy of the prison plus the willingness of both the Governor and Milton Keynes College to support the project have helped make it a reality. I hope to inspire my students to great things in the future.”

p>Source: Milton Keynes College OLASS