The Friends of Erlestoke Prison helps to support offenders with the challenges of resettlement and rehabilitation and keeping in touch with their families whilst completing their sentence. The charity aims to:
'Promote & support the rehabilitation of prisoners who are or have been prisoners at HMP Erlestoke, by the provision of funds and services as the trustees think fit and in consultation with the prison Governors/Governing Body'
The charity has five Trustees, six Patrons and a small committee of enthusiastic local individuals who continually seek ways to help the prison, staff and prisoners. The committee hold regular meetings and work with a forum within the prison who keep the Friends abreast of issues and challenges facing the prison. The forum is made up of staff and prisoners who also put forward ideas for projects and initiatives which require funding.
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Royal Patron
Sir John Nutting Q.C.
The Lord Margadale of Islay
John Bush, CVO, JP
Sir Christopher Benson, DL
Belinda Southwell (Chair)
Mark Mangham (Treasurer)
Angela Hughes (Secretary)
Simon Petchey (Governance)
Carol Part (Fundraising)
Erlestoke Prison is a Category C adult male, rehabilitation prison located in Salisbury Plain close to Devizes. It is the only prison in Wiltshire. There are eight residential units which have the capacity to house nearly 524 prisoners. The prison has a strong focus on training and education programmes to address offending behavior, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and work opportunities for prisoners.
Some prisoners are released from Erlestoke but most are transferred to a resettlement prison close to their home or close to where they will begin their lives after prison. They are then faced with the challenges of settling back into the community and managing their lives without reoffending. The Friends of Erlestoke Prison supports rehabilitation initiatives which are beyond the scope of prison budgets, but which have a significant impact on changing behaviour.
The prison's vision is to realise their potential as a safe and secure establishment that provides offenders with the motivation and opportunities to lead crime free lives. Decency, respect and integrity are central to all prison activities. For further information, please visit: HMP Erlestoke
In support of the prison's resettlement and rehabiliation work, The Friends of Erlestoke Prison have funded the following projects:
A Housing Support Worker to support offenders, prior to release, to find suitable housing. This role was in place for 18 months (until the end of December 2014) and is no longer required at HMP Erlestoke, since the repurposing of the establishment to a rehabilitation prison
A joint venture with Victim Support to create a large mosaic which depicts the impact of crime on victims. A small group of offenders and victims worked together with a mosaic artist to develop the mosaic. The final artwork now hangs in a prominent position in the prison for all visitors, staff and offenders to view. (This project was match funded by the Devizes Area Board)
Origami classes to encourage prisoners' creative skills. Cards are made and packaged during these sessions and are sold in various outlets including the Erlestoke Farm Shop and the Salisbury Cathedral gift shop. Over £2,000 was raised from card sales in 2017/18.
Funding of the 'Resettlement into Open Conditions' courses for offenders moving to Cat D establishments
Ongoing supply of children's 'Book Start' packs which are available in the Visits Hall. The packs provide a focus for children and their dads to play and read together during prison visits.
A scheme for offenders’ families and friends which provides transport on visit days from Westbury Station and Devizes town centre to the prison and back again.
Yoga classes for offenders to help with anger management, relaxation and general well being. (in conjunction with the Phoenix Trust)
Art therapy session to develop prisoners' creative talents and help with self expression, improved self esteem and a sense of achievement.
Several drama workshops to assist offenders with self confidence and building self esteem. Profits from ticket sales for performances have been used to fund future initiatives.
Drumming equipment for music therapy sessions in the chapel
Sourcing and arranging monthly guest speakers for the 'older prisoner' group