HMP Liverpool workers speak out
Our project officer, Katy McCormick, visited our bike project in Workshop 6 at HMP Liverpool (Walton) to award Bronze, Silver and Gold Certificates of Achievement to some of the trainees. These certificates are given when the men reach a certain level of skill, and are also our way of saying thank you for their work. Many of these men have never received a certificate or any kind of acknowledgement before, and it can mean a lot to their self-esteem. She gave a short presentation about the bikes we had recently sent to Bulgaria and listened to some of them men talk about their experience of the workshop. Here is her report:”A really important part of the project is that the men understand what happens to the bikes they repair. I showed them pictures and talked to them about the bikes we sent to Baba Tonka House in Bulgaria. Bulgaria has the highest number of abandoned children of any country in the EU and these children are kept in huge, state-run institutions with little personal attention or care. Baba Tonka House offers an alternative, supporting disabled children and their families to reduce abandonment. The bikes were an unheard-of treat for the children, and a really useful means of transport for the staff.
I then had a chance to talk to some of the men, asking them about what they liked about the workshop and if they thought they were learning anything that would be useful when they were released.
The feedback about the bikes to Bulgaria made a big impact. “Not being funny but some of the lads had a tear in their eye.” “Makes you think that does. Those kids over there.” “It’s good that you came to talk to us.”
They all agreed they had improved their mechanical skills and some thought it might be useful in the future. “I’ll be able to fix the kiddies’ bikes.” “I wonder how I could set up a project like this when I get out.”
The calm atmosphere in the workshop was a plus. “Every other place I’ve been here I’ve been thrown out. Just my temper. Can’t help it really. But I don’t get stressed here.” “It’s just a good mood in here. Calm.”
The men said that in other workshops each man tends to his own work. Here, they are more likely to work together or help one another out. “Sure, I’ll show him [if he needs help].”
As I left, it seemed to me that the bicycles were almost a by-product. What they are really making in Workshop 6 is self-esteem.
From a Lancashire jail to war-torn Sri Lanka
We connect prisoners to people in need all over the world. Watch the short video below – Wheelchairs from Lancashire – to see how wheelchairs restored by prisoners at Garth Prison in Lancashire have helped land mine victims in Sri Lanka — and given children in Chennai, India, mobility and independence. And please do share with friends and colleagues. Thanks!
Garden party guests give £500
Thank you to everyone who came to our annual fundraiser at David and Susan’s house in Wilsden, Bradford. The sun shone, the band sounded great, and together you raised £500 to help us keep our new van on the road. The money will cover the costs of road tax and will make a contribution to the insurance costs. The van is out two to three days a week every week, collecting materials from donors around the country, delivering to prison workshops, picking up the restored goods from prisons and delivering them to the various charities that distribute them overseas.
Susan and David put in a tremendous amount of work to make the party a success (although David can only claim partial credit for the good weather!) and we will try something new next year to give them a bit of a rest. Do please get in touch if you have any ideas or would like to host an event at your house, club or society.
If you didn’t get to the party, you can still donate: just click here <a href=”http://www.justgiving.com/margaretcarey/donate/?utm_source=website&utm_medium=buttons&utm_content=margaretcarey&utm_campaign=Donate_JG_Blue_Large”><img src=”http://www.justgiving.com/charities/content/images/logo-buttons/blue/Donate_JG_Blue_Large.gif” alt=”Donate JustGiving” /></a>
Bradford residents donate bikes to Ugandan orphans
More than 50 people brought their old bikes to Margaret Carey Foundation’s recent bike drive in Bradford. Many were lucky enough to get a new bike for Christmas and were happy to donate their old one. Others were just glad to clear out their sheds and garages. All the bikes will be cleaned and restored by offenders in prison workshops, and then sent overseas to help an orphanage in Uganda.
Margaret Carey Foundation’s chief executive, David Brown, said: “Not many children in Africa will have had a new bike this Christmas. We’re delighted by the generosity of all the people here in Bradford who have played “Santa” to these kids. These bikes also give meaningful work to offenders in prisons across the North of England. They work hard to fix up the bikes so they are just about good as new, before we hand them over to the charity that will get them overseas in the Spring.”
That charity is BeCycling for Africa, led by Chris Armstrong of West Yorkshire. Chris has raised money for shipping the bikes and has formed links with the Uganda National Cycling Association to set up classes to teach young people basic bicycle maintenance and riding skills.
He is also organising the distribution of the bikes. Some of the bikes will go to an orphanage in the isolated town of Fort Portal and some will be used to provide eco-friendly cycle tours of the Kibale National Park for tourists, which the home runs to generate a profit and support the children. Other bikes will be given to young people who work on community projects.
Margaret Carey Foundation is still collecting, so if you have an old bike, please get in touch. Telephone 01535 275530.
Any old iron?
Bicycles – Wheelchairs – Petrol lawnmower – Sewing machines – Garden tools – Scrap timber
Do you have any of the above that you no longer use? Let us take your unwanted items. Provided it is still in reasonable condition and that, with some TLC at one our offender refurbishment projects, it can be put back into full working order, we would like to hear from you.
Call David on 01535 275530 to arrange a collection
Lifetime Achievement Award for David Brown
David Brown, CEO of the Margaret Carey Foundation, has been awarded the Lord Longford Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to restorative justice and work with prisons. Shami Chakrabarty, the Director of the campaign group, Liberty, presented the award.
David founded Margaret Carey Foundation in 20010 to provide meaningful work for prisoners. The charity rescues disused bikes and wheelchairs that would otherwise be land filled and takes them to prison workshops where they are refurbished. The charity then donates the bikes and wheelchairs to people in need in England and in the developing world.
David retired from the Probation Service in Bradford in 1997 but after less than a year of retirement he was recruited to work for the Inside Out Trust, setting up and managing prison projects until the organisation was suddenly wound up in 2008. David was again tempted to take retirement but instead, his response was to carry on ‘business as usual’ despite no proper funds, no salary, and no organisational backup. He continued to run his projects as a full time volunteer, raising funds through local community events and commandeering friends and family to support. He was finally able to register Margaret Carey Foundation with the Charity Commission in 2010 and to establish it as a limited company the same year.
In the 18 months since then, offenders have refurbished 550 bikes and 600 wheelchairs, which have been distributed to needy people in South Africa, Uganda, Eastern Europe, Fiji and Sri Lanka.
Voluntary and community groups, individuals and private companies contribute the “raw materials” of disused bikes and wheelchairs, and the charity is currently seeking more donations of this type.
The Longford Prize recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities of humanity, courage, persistence and originality. It is awarded annually by a prize committee on behalf of the trustees and patrons of the Longford Trust. It is sponsored by the Independent newspaper and organised in association with the Prison Reform Trust.
The prize was awarded at the annual Longford Lecture, given this year by Jon Snow on the subject of “Crime, punishment and the media. “
A True Story About Manikandam
by David Brown, Chief Executive of the Margaret Carey Foundation
This is a true story about the wife of the Deputy High Commissioner of Chennai, India, a little orphan boy called Manikandam, and a prison workshop in Lancashire, England.
Elizabeth H was, in her own words, “not best pleased to be where I was on this our last posting” and initially did very little in the first few months in Chennai. However, there were a group of people who had volunteered to help teach English to children in a local orphanage and Elizabeth was persuaded to join them and into her class (and life) came Manikandam.
It was the way Manikandam entered the class that caught the attention – he dragged himself in across a courtyard. He was unable to use his legs or lift his head, and didn’t speak or communicate in anyway – but still he kept coming to the class. The Deputy High Commissioner’s wife set out to get Manikandam a wheelchair, which proved an extraordinarily difficult and protracted procedure. Eventually, after many months a wheelchair arrived but it proved totally unsuitable for Manikandam who was more uncomfortable in the chair than he was dragging himself through the mud and dirt. Also he was still facing down, so communication did not improve. Everyone concerned with the boy thought he was mute and probably deaf as well.
At this juncture Elizabeth came home on leave, met a friend and told her of Manikandam and his plight. This friend knew of the Inside Out Trust (a precursor to the Margaret Carey Foundation) and Elizabeth attended a staff meeting to see if the Trust could help. I was able to offer her the services of HMP Garth where I had established a wheelchair project and in which they (in the form of a gifted prisoner, and with the help of adjoining workshops) made a specially adapted wheelchair for Manikandam, making use of the workshop instructor’s home computer and the wonders of email.
During the course of these events, someone asked me, if we can send one wheelchair to Chennai why not more than one as the need there was very great. We enlisted the help of British Airways who flew one hundred wheelchairs in crates that had been made by Wymott prison next door to Garth. The workshop instructor at Garth, Dave Kellett, went along at his own expense and landed with these one hundred chairs and met Elizabeth.
What followed was the distribution of these wheelchairs, which DK recorded and photographed. When Manikandam was placed in his chair it was so designed that his head faced forward and was slightly raised so he could see his surroundings.
What amazed Elizabeth, the other volunteers, and DK was the beautiful smile Manikandam gave to all around him, what was even more amazing was the fact that the boy had learned some English and could hear and speak. He was in fact from another part of India and so did not know the local language. Which was partly why he had never spoken. Although still living in an orphanage, he is now more independent and of course able to communicate and join in with the other children. E.H. Dave Kellett and others still stay in touch and offer support to Manikandam and as far as I know he is still doing well and has proved himself to be a bright student.