Chichester College Group and HMP Ford have marked the opening of the Ford Campus - School of Construction.
The group have worked with HMP Ford to develop the School of Construction, which will be home to skills training for prisoners at the Category D open prison.
The facility has a number of purpose built areas, designed specifically to deliver training in brickwork, dry lining, carpentry and painting & decorating. It also has a unit as part of the campus, which will deliver training in horticulture.
A team of lecturers employed by the college group will be working exclusively with prisoners at HMP Ford, under the leadership of Education Manager Martin Grufferty.
Martin and his team, joined by Simon Grundy (hospitality tutor at HMP Ford) and a small group of prisoners, spent the summer working tirelessly to transform the facility from a call centre into the new School of Construction.
Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, joined HMP Ford Governor Andrew Davy to officially open the school last Monday (26 October).
She said: “We are delighted to be working with the team at HMP Ford to deliver high quality skills training.
“It is really important to help prisoners find a path to employment and that – for many - starts with education and equipping them with skills that will help them into work.
“Our mission, as an inclusive college group, is to change lives through learning. And that really is what Martin and his team will be doing at our Ford Campus.”
Around 180 prisoners will be receiving training at the School of Construction. It’s hoped the centre will help them gain employment following their release – and it already has its first success story.
An ex-offender who was recently released from HMP Ford was one of the prisoners involved in the redevelopment of the centre. He has since found full-time employment in the construction industry.
Speaking at the opening, he said: “I learnt a trade years ago. I’m a builder by trade and I had been laying bricks since I was 16, so I know how important it is to have a trade.
“When I was sent to Ford, I started doing dry lining and Tony, the tutor, told me about the new school. I got called over with a small team of lads, so through the summer we were working over here and building this site.
“I think if other lads can come into here, learn and leave with a trade, then they can find employment. That’s what I’ve done.
“I’ve been out six weeks and I’m in full-time employment. It’s amazing.”
Andrew Davy, Governor at HMP Ford, added: “This is a great opportunity for those men in our care to learn and gain recognised qualifications in the construction trades that will enable them to gain employment both during their time at HMP Ford, as part of Temporary Release, and on eventual release from prison.
“HMP Ford and Chichester College have engaged and secured future partnerships with a number of construction companies that have committed to employing our men on release. These opportunities and skills give hope to our men and change their lives for a better future.
“I want to personally thank all that have been involved in the building of the School and those that will be teaching and look forward to seeing real positive outcomes over the coming months.”