Chelsea Flower Show: design exhibition for prisoners at Kent Prison

Image source, BBC/Phil Harrison

Image caption, Kali Hamerton-Stove said the project also included a shop and provided resettlement support

  • Author, Amy Walker and Phil Harrison
  • Role, BBC News, South East

A garden designed and built by women who are in prison or recently released will be showcased at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The courtyard will be a replica of the greenhouse at HMP East Sutton Park, in Kent, where prisoners trained.

Kali Hamerton-Stove, director of the Glasshouse project, says it has helped women prepare for release and tackled recidivism.

She said the exhibition was an “incredible opportunity” to showcase their work.

The exhibit includes houseplants cared for by women in prison and items representing their “dreams and hopes.”

Ms Hamerton Stove said it is “great” that women “get to design and build an exhibition based on their experience”.

She said it’s also great that they will be surrounded by horticultural specialists and “incredibly inspiring people” at the show.

She said the project aimed to ensure that women had “skills to enter the labor market and society” upon release from prison.

‘It gave me purpose’

Image source, BBC/Phil Harrison

Image caption, Former inmate Rhi said she thought “something to cherish” was important for female prisoners

Rhi, a former inmate working on the project, said it gave her “a purpose” and that she cried when she found out it was headed to the flower show.

She said: “Often we are invisible or even hidden so that we can be embraced and given the opportunity… I just couldn’t believe it.”

The latest government data shows that around a fifth of female prisoners reoffend, but this has generally fallen over the past decade.

Figures show that in 2022-2023, 30% of all people released from prison were employed six months after their release.

The Chelsea Flower Show opens on May 21 at the Royal Hospital Grounds in South London.

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