Prisoners help create a new training centre

Staff, guests and prisoners celebrate the opening of the new vocational training centre at Highpoint Prison
Staff, guests and prisoners celebrate the opening of the new vocational training centre at Highpoint Prison

Prisoners at Highpoint have a sense of pride at the new vocational skills centre at the jail as they helped build it.

The new centre on the north site of the prison offers courses including decorating, fitted interiors, IT and plumbing.

Staff and students at the A4e run training at the prison converted disused workshops into bespoke training areas and created a further 50 training places. This brings the total number of places at Highpoint to 494.

When educational provision merged last year managers had the challenge of avoiding duplication at the north and south sites. It was decided to focus vocational training on the north and commercial work on the south.

Prisoners receive training on bricklaying, making fitted kitchens and bathrooms as well as IT skills helping them create their own websites.

More than a third of Highpoint’s leavers go into employment or self employment and almost 45 per centto training or education.

Education manager Kevin Morris from A4e said: “In a short space of time these workshops were constructed at a fraction of the cost that it would have incurred had a contractor been called in.

“From the consutruction tutors and students who built many of the workshop facilities to the graphic design tutors and students who designed the new VTC logo it has been fantastic to see such passionate staff develop this facility over the last couple of months.”

Three of the Category C prison’s hardest working students were invited to help at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Jaimie, 36, helped plasted the inside of the centre and told visitors he found his training at Highpoint so valuable he turned down a move to a lower secure unit for the end of his sentence.

“It’s been brilliant getting the construction qualifications I need and I didn’t want to leave before I completed them so I asked to stay on.”

Kevin Coates, painting and decorating tutor, said: “We take prisoners whatever their academic level. It’s about trying to get them ready for work.