How we're supporting prisoner rehabilitation
Did you know that the poinsettias we sell in our Jersey stores were grown by prisoners at La Moye Prison?
It’s not something you’d expect, but for the last five Christmases, our unique partnership with the prison has allowed us to exclusively stock poinsettias from La Moye. In actual fact, they grow approximately 2,000 plants each year.
They prisoners also responsible for the wooden boxes that were introduced in 2018 for collecting charity donated items in our Grand Marchés.
These are both direct outputs of La Moye’s rehabilitation 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 our mission and values, to support and make a difference locally.
Growing our Christmas poinsettias
The horticultural department at the prison is the largest employer of prisoners. 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 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. From start to finish, growing and cultivating the Poinsettias takes the prisoners almost six months. 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.
Lesley Harrison, the prison’s head of reducing re-offending scheme, said the program is invaluable for prisoners:
'This project is an important part of prisoners rehabilitation, we do not want to see prisoners returning.
'We have a dedicated team of officers and prison support staff who work hard to provide opportunities which will prepare prisoners for release, with a view to reducing reoffending, making our island safer, and reduce the associated costs and impact that criminal behaviour can have in our small community.
'We are extremely grateful to the Co-op for their ongoing support and encouragement and for providing us with an opportunity to create awareness to the importance of education and training for prisoners, so we can ensure they are work ready, personally ready and community ready.'
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, pots, compost, tools, and educational materials, all required to grow next year's crop.
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 a number of local charities and organisations throughout the year.
The boxes themselves were made in the prison’s carpentry training workshop in 2018. 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.
We’re proud that our partnership with the prison really is a gift that keeps on giving.