Hatfield Lakes is the smaller of the 2 sites which make up HMP Hatfield, located 3.5 miles away from the main site, next door to HMP Lindholme where MCF also runs a bike maintenance workshop. The MCF Bike workshop has been running in HMP Hatfield Lakes since 2015. It is only a small workshop with just 4 men working at any one time with approximately 16 men in total trained per year. The trainees stay in the workshop for a maximum of 12 weeks,which can lead to challenges for the instructor as there are times when there aren't as many men who have been suitably trained.

The thing that appeals most to workshop instructor Julie Child is experiencing the calm, relaxed environment which is achieved for the men as they are all engrossed in repairing the bikes which would have otherwise been sent to the tip. It's an inclusive workshop with all the men being respectful to one another. Julie has been in the prison service and took over responsibility for the bike workshop in 2018.

The majority of bikes that are refurbished at HMP Hatfield Lakes are brought in by MCF although some are donated locally. The prison also sells a small number of bikes via the farmshop at HMP Hatfield.

When the men first come in to the workshop they are keen to gain new skills that will be useful on release, for example, they can fix their children's bikes. However, when they see bikes that come in looking like scrap and spend the time and effort to repair them to a high standard they feel really proud knowing that they will be donated to people less fortunate than themsleves in the community.

The bike workshop teaches new skills but can also have a positive impact on the mental health of the trainees. Julie recalls: "I had a retired gentleman working in the bike workshop, he always had a smile on his face and he told me if it hadn't been for the workshop he feels he would have gone downhill with depression. On his release he made a point of coming back in to thank me for giving him the chance to work in the bike shop as it helped him greatly."

Julie also experienced a turnaround in behaviour of another of the trainees.

"I recently had a young man on my work party painting who lacked concentration. I had to constantly watch, encourage and supervise him. After a couple of weeks I asked if he would like to spend some time in the bike workshop and he hesitantly agreed. The change in his attitude and attendance was remarkable! He was always the first to book on at the beginning of the day and during his time in there was having engaging, intelligent conversations with the other men. His behaviour changed and he told me he really enjoyed seeing that he could achieve something he was proud of."

In the future Julie would like to see more storage for the bikes at the prison so they can manage better when there are lots of new trainees and the pace is slower.

Further information about HMP Hatfield can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.