Prison recycling scheme to help homeless people

Virgin Trains staff deliver old uniforms to HMP Northumberland for the recycle scheme.
Virgin Trains staff deliver old uniforms to HMP Northumberland for the recycle scheme.

HMP Northumberland has teamed up with Virgin Trains to transform old uniforms to help homeless people.

The rail company has handed over the garments to the Acklington-based jail, where they will be recycled by the prison’s talented textiles team.

The initiative, developed by Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland, with support from London-based charity Hubbub, will see inmates transform the old uniforms into new items such as blankets, bags and coats to help those living on the streets.

The upcycled garments are being donated to local homeless charity The Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports young LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) homeless people in crisis, as well as going to HMP Askham Grange and Virgin Trains’ charity partner, Rethink Mental Illness.

With the uniforms being transformed at the prison’s onsite textiles factory, the innovative partnership is part of a rehabilitation scheme that helps to prepare prisoners for life outside, in an effort to reduce reoffending rates.

Steven Goodacre, head of business development at HMP Northumberland, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Virgin Trains on its uniform upcycling initiative.

“Not only is it great to be giving back to local and national homeless charities, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for our offenders within the establishment to learn new skills which will help them once they have been released, while also decreasing the likelihood of reoffending.”

Through the initiative, HMP Northumberland will also be supporting Victim Support and Family Gateway.