“Lizzie’s story” via Fine Cell Work

Between 2008 and 2013, I regularly visited HMP Send as a volunteer with the social enterprise, Fine Cell Work.

I helped to teach the prisoners to stitch high-quality items (mainly needlepoint cushions) which were then sold and the prisoners were paid for their time and skill.  The value of learning to do something really well as well as the value of having something to while away the long hours in their cells, was clear and immense.

It all began on a Wednesday morning in 2008 when I heard the Director of Fine Cell Work speaking on the radio.  I had one of those life-changing, lightbulb moments when I simply knew that this was something I had to be involved with so I zipped downstairs to Google FCW – and sent Katy an email, there and then.  Before too long, I was a regular visitor to a local prison, which I continued to be for upwards of five years.

My “volunteer’s story” is no longer on the FCW website but I will never forget the prisoners I met and worked with.  That time was of immense value to me, too, as I was working through a change of direction in my career and subsequent opportunities to teach adult literacy would not have come my way without it.

PS Why not pop over to their website and have a quick look at the items for sale… it’s all beautiful stuff…


  1. nuvofelt on November 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    A worthwhile contribution, Lizzie. And I agree – quality items as a result.

    • lizziecarver on November 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Most of the stitchers are male and have never picked up a needle before – the quilts that are made (all by hand) in Wandsworth are really beautiful. But the biggest part is the learning, achieving and feeling proud of what has been produced.

      • nuvofelt on November 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm

        And so they should.. whatever their background. I know it’s turned some lives around.

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