A unique recycling project is helping female prisoners get back on their feet.A group of women at Adelaide Women’s Prison is receiving entrepreneurship training, in a bid to foster a sense of purpose and help with the transition to meaningful employment after sentences finish.Jenny — not her real name — works as a barista at the prison, and is doing everything she can to prepare for life on the outside.”Coming from a hospitality background I’ve used a coffee machine all of my career,” she said.”But now I have a certificate that says I can, that’s a huge difference.”I get to use the skills that I have every day and that’s really important because you know when you’re in here for a while you can lose those things.”I’m lucky I’m very blessed and that’s hard to say in a place like this but I really am.”‘I’m not coming back’The mother of two has been behind bars for 14 months, but will be out by Christmas.She is one of a dozen women selected for the 10-week entrepreneurship program called ‘Raising Bars’.”I’m excited, can’t wait,” the 45-year-old said.”One [thing] is for sure, I’m not coming back.”Seven of the women in the program are serving time in the prison with the other five are completing their sentences in the community.”Your confidence comes back a little bit, you know, realising you can still do stuff beyond these walls and that’s really important,” she said. (Supplied)
Idea a two-fold business modelThe women recycle cans and bottles inside the prison, raising 10 cents per item.Then, they use the money to buy ingredients to create a foot scrub to sell as a retail product, and for prisoners to use.Amy Orange said the women have come up with really simple solutions.”[It’s] how to fund this initiative in a way that’s also environmentally sound and it solves their problem [and] creates a foot scrub available for them and helping them to feel beautiful.”They came up with the brand being ‘From The Inside’ and their why is around ‘beauty is inside everyone’ and it’s these things that get their overall mental health and wellbeing back on track.”It’s hoped the foot scrub — made from recycled coffee waste, grapeseed oil and salt — will be packaged and ready to sell in an Adelaide supermarket.”What we’re looking at here is those marketing techniques as well and the idea is that we might create some employment opportunities on the outside,” Ms Orange said.”I mean entrepreneurship, a big part of it is not just solving problems but it’s job creation as well as job seeking, so these girls are creating a job that they could step into once they leave here.”Program hoped to reduce repeat offendingWith the incarceration rate for women on the rise nationally, it’s a project South Australia’s correctional services hope will also help reduce the rate of repeat offending.The proportion of women in Australian prisons is around eight per cent, but the number of female prisoners has jumped by 77 per cent in the past decade.Adelaide Women’s Prison general manager Darian Shephard-Bayly said he believed programs like this would go some way to stop recidivism.”We really need to support people when they first get here and build them back up so that they’re able to leave the system and forge new lives for themselves without committing further offences and coming back to prison,” Mr Shephard-Bayly said.”The thing about this program is it’s innovative.”It’s working with other people that traditionally corrections wouldn’t have worked with because we’re always looking to say what could be the factor that can contribute to a decrease in offending — someone not returning back to prison, someone not committing another crime — and when you start with that certain headset it brings a certain openness to look to partner with others in the community that also want to see the same things.”What makes this program effective is it gives people a sense that they can learn skills, that they can solve problems, that they can obtain employment and for many people some of those things are probably things that when they first come to prison, they have lost a sense of hope.”It is that sense of hope for someone like Jenny, that can be restored.”Would I go out and work for myself?” she said.”Probably didn’t think I had the courage or strength to do that, but what we’ve learnt, it’s a possibility.” “Just being given the opportunity, when you come to jail you kind of lose who you are, so it’s really nice to be able to give something back.”Two socially-conscious Adelaide based entrepreneurs are behind the program — Harvest Fair Founder Amy Orange and Kik Innovation CEO Louise Nobes.”I was a volunteer with the Department of Correctional Services for about nine years and have always been really passionate about community playing a big role in people with criminal records being able to reintegrate back into the community,” Ms Orange said.”Basically, it’s about taking an idea from a concept to paying customers and the process that one might go through to identify a problem and then solve it.”
Packaging for the coffee foot scrub made inside the prison.
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Harvest Fair founder Amy Orange and Adelaide Women’s Prison general manager Darian Shephard-Bayly.