Instructor Andy Tawn spent 8 years working for the prison service and 4 years delivering qualifications in prisons for an external training provider before he joined the CHAINS bike maintenance workshop when it first opened at HMP Risley in July 2017.

With an average of 18 learners a day in the workshop, approxiately 200 men come through the workshop in one year.

The workshop delivers the MCF certificates from Bronze - Gold in bike maintenance and certificates in warehousing and storage.

The workshop has developed links with local charities and as well as the bikes regulalry delivered by MCF they have received local donations

The main challenge facing the workshop is the turnaround of trainees that they see. Although they try to maintain  learners in the workshop for as long as possible to provide a good level of skill, prisoners are often moved on to Category D prisons or released - this is the same for all Risley's workshops.  

Andy says: "The biggest buzz I get from this workshop is giving people basic skills that they can use upon release and seeing them learning to work as part of a team. Helping trainees get back into the working environment is really important to help improve their opportunities upon release. I still really enjoy watching the trainees put in the effort to turn what starts off as scrap into a useable bike."

Andy has been acknowledged for his hard work and commitment in the workshop - he won the North West Regional Award for Charitable Services in 2018 and has also been nominated for a Butler Trust Award.

"I really enjoy working in the MCF workshop, I am very proud of what we have already achieved in a short period of time and it is proving really popular within the prison. The name of the workshop CHAINS -Change, Help Advance in New Skills is very fitting to the workshop - we are really focussed on providing a positive envionment for rehabilitation."

The dual aspect of the workshop, learning new skills and helping others really appeals to the trainees. "I always make trainees aware of where the bikes have gone, where their efforts have made a difference to other people as well as any moey we have raised. It's important for all to see what is coming from the workshop and how many people they are helping. "

Andy has ambitious plans to develop the workshop in the future - "I would love to have a welding department at some stage to expand what we do here but it's not important in the short term. I would also really love some sort of wheel storage as they take up a lot of room. I would also love to have a projector or TV to show 'How To' bike maintenance videos so that learners can broaden their knowledge."

Read more about Andy's working day by reading his blog

A group of trainees receiving their MCF awards from Director, David Brown

HMP Risley is a Category C training prison in Cheshire. Further information about HMP Risley can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.