How we're supporting prisoner rehabilitation
By Ell Hopton, Marketing Officer
Did you know that the poinsettias we sell in our Jersey stores were grown by inmates at La Moye Prison?
It’s not something you’d expect, but for the last four Christmases, our unique partnership with the prison has allowed us to exclusively stock poinsettias from La Moye.
This year, the prison has also created and donated the food donation boxes that you see in our Jersey Grand Marché stores.
These are both direct outputs of La Moye’s horticultural and carpentry schemes. The projects aim to ensure that when a prisoner is eventually released, they are equipped with new skills and able to make a valuable contribution to society.
This fits perfectly with one of our community themes this Christmas: inclusiveness, and supporting vulnerable islanders.
Interested to know how this all helps make a real difference to our communities? Read on...
Growing our Christmas poinsettias
The horticultural department at the prison is the largest employer of inmates. It provides a proper working environment for the prisoners, and their principal aim is to grow vegetables and herbs for use in the prison kitchens. But they also grow ornamental plants, like the poinsettias grown for the Co-op.
What’s involved in growing them?
The poinsettias start off as small ‘Plug Plants’ in July. The prisoners pot them into a specially mixed compost and, for the next five months they are grown in a greenhouse, where they quadruple in size.
When the daylight hours begin to shorten, the poinsettias start to change colour to become the distinctive plant we all recognise at Christmas.
The positive impact on prisoners
As any home gardener will know, poinsettias are a notoriously difficult plant to grow. But because of this, it is very satisfying for the prisoners and staff when the poinsettias are fully grown and ready to put on sale.
Steve De Carteret, the prison’s Horticultural Manager, said the horticultural program is invaluable for inmates:
“Most prisoners will have had no previous experience of growing vegetables. By getting them to take ownership of what they are growing and ultimately eating, they learn a great deal about the creative process of growing and also the responsibility and care required to grow something successfully.”
Horticultural staff are also qualified to teach and assess City and Guilds qualifications, which gives prisoners the chance to gain a qualification whilst on the inside.
Why buying a poinsettia helps make a difference
The prison re-invests all proceeds from the sale of poinsettias in to seeds, compost, tools, and educational materials.
So, by buying a poinsettia from your Co-op this year, you are enabling the prison to continue this vital rehabilitation work with prisoners. You’re helping to make a real difference to the community.
Creating our food donation boxes
Our food donation boxes give customers the opportunity to donate food items to Jersey’s Women’s Refuge (until 14 December) and Shelter Trust (from 15 December), helping vulnerable and homeless islanders over the festive period.
The boxes themselves were made in the prison’s carpentry training workshop. Most prisoners have no previous experience in carpentry, so the workshop offers them the opportunity to work at different skill levels on a range of different projects.
As well as creating our donation boxes, the prisoners make many items including planters, picnic tables and hardwood coffee tables.
They also up-cycle pallets (many of which are donated by the Co-op) into bird boxes, hedgehog homes and bat boxes. These are given out to schools, community projects and the general public.
How the project benefits prisoners and the wider community
This initiative brings so many benefits to the community:
The prisoners, who are being equipped to make a valuable contribution to society upon release; the local organisations and community groups, which are benefiting from receiving the hedgehog, bat and bird boxes; which in turn support our natural environment through the conservation of our native species.
And of course, the food donation boxes will support some of our most vulnerable islanders this festive season through the food donations in store.
We’re proud that our partnership with the prison really is a gift that keeps on giving.