The London College of Fashion

The Pilgrim Trust was approached in 2016 to help set up a new fashion, training and manufacturing unit called Making for Change at HMP Downview women’s prison, following the need for its relocation after Holloway prison was closed. The project supports female offenders to make themselves more employable on release by providing opportunities for them to work with the fashion manufacturing industry and to gain high-level skills and industry recognised qualifications. The Pilgrim Trust grant went towards the cost of a part- time Quality Control Lecturer.

‘Making for Change’ offers female prisoners, guided by experienced trainers, the opportunity to work together to complete orders from trade customers, supplying the fashion and home retail sector.  Project participants are eligible for a prison salary, as well as for a bonus payment, based on their commitment and contribution. Graduates from the training scheme are assisted by London College of Fashion and Working Chance (a specialist recruitment agency for female ex-offenders) to find jobs within the manufacturing industry at the end of sentences, or if eligible for release on temporary license, work placements during the final year of their sentence.  Participants can also engage in work-related learning visits and activities delivered by visiting industry specialists. The Quality Control Lecturer has put in place a programme to ensure robust quality standards and teaches industry protocols within the garment production. The ambition is to increase orders from the fashion industry and a Quality Control function is very important in ensuring a high quality finish to all products manufactured and therefore repeat business.

In 2018, led by artist Lucy Orta and commissioned by Historic England, Processions project engaged residents at HMP Downview women’s prison and London College of Fashion (LCF) students in the collaborative production of banner artworks to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which first gave women the right to vote. Lucy collected testimonies from women across Downview that were used to create the banner designs. The hand-embellished panels were assembled collaboratively by Lucy, a group of 14 Downview residents and LCF students, who took part in the project on a voluntary basis.

This was followed by attendance at the Processions votes for women centenary celebration in London. On 10 June 2018, Processions saw over 100,000 women come together London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Images with kind permission of The London College of Fashion