Margaret Carey

Margaret Carey founded the Inside Out Trust in 1994, pioneering work in restorative justice and developing the basic business model that we now follow. We named our new charity after her because we share her values that people who have done wrong should be given the opportunity to make amends by doing useful work that helps other people. They develop an understanding that there are many communities which have needs which they can fulfil, even though they are in prison. Projects bring together people in the community who donate unwanted items, with others who need such things. The prison workers provide the link between these two communities and gain great satisfaction from knowing that they are doing good as well as developing skills which will help them in their future lives.

Margaret is not on our board or staff, but she helped us with initial fundraising and was instrumental in a successful application to the Monument Trust when we first started.

Here’s what she says about herself:

I’ve spent nearly 30 years doing work that aims to improve the lives of marginalised people, initially in overseas development and then within the criminal justice system.

The idea of asking people in prison to refurbish unwanted items such as sewing machines, bicycles, wheelchairs and hearing aids, occurred to me after a trip to Malawi where blind women in rural areas had no means of earning a living. The provision of a manual sewing machine could give them the means of providing for their community, earning a living, and becoming self-sufficient.  Donated sewing machines arrived in abundance after a radio appeal but most of them needed repair. The idea of asking prisoners to learn the fairly basic mechanical skills to do this work occurred to me after a visit to our local prison where workshops were empty and men idle. The Governor agreed to a pilot project and, as they say, the rest is history!  After this very positive experience I founded the Inside Out Trust, a charity based on restorative justice principles which allowed people in prison to do meaningful work which would clearly help other people with whom they could identify, and whom they could see were, in many ways, worse off than themselves. I ran it for about ten years until July 2004. David Brown was Regional Coordinator for the North.

One thing led to another and I got involved in other charities within the sector including chairing the Board of the Restorative Justice Consortium (now Council) for six years. In 2007 I was part of the team that set up Circles UK to expand the work of circles of support and accountability in England and Wales. This was based on the Quaker initiative in Canada which works with released sex offenders within the community, providing them with structured support which aims to allow them to live safely after release from sometimes very long periods of imprisonment. I currently chair the board of Sussex Pathways, a charity providing ‘through the gate’ services to men returning from prison to live in Sussex, and also running restorative justice programmes. Alongside this, I served for seven years as an Independent Member of the Parole Board; and for nearly 25 years as a magistrate.

Outside the criminal justice system, I’ve served as a churchwarden in our parish church and this involves being a trustee of several community charities. I sing alto in the church choir, possibly the only activity shared by people between the ages of 8 and 88! I am a trustee of our local Hurst Festival, of which I was a founder and which is now in its fifteenth year. I’m a member of a poetry group, write a column for our local paper, organise concerts, and altogether have a wonderfully varied life. I’ve always lived in Mid Sussex and can’t imagine being out of sight of the South Downs for very long. My husband, Kevin, is a social entrepreneur, preacher, writer, singer, and recently retired as chair of the Board of the RNIB, a charity on a somewhat larger scale than any of mine!  We have two children, seven grandchildren and, so far, one great-grandchild. My son lives in Australia and I’ve managed to visit him every year for more than 20 years.

I am immensely proud to be associated with MCF and congratulate the trustees, staff and volunteers for the excellent work of the charity. It is always a pleasure and a privilege to visit its projects, both inside prisons and in the community and to see the dedication and commitment of the men in the projects and the staff who support them.