Novus in Custody Concrete Transformed Into Blooming Success

About the project

Turning a functional concrete environment into an inspirational space to learn and gain confidence takes time, boundless enthusiasm and determination. At HMP Durham that drive and inspiration comes from Horticulture Tutor Sue Walton.

Sue delivers the City & Guilds (C&G) Horticulture qualification at the Category B prison where her infectious enthusiasm, proactive approach and passion for her subject have overcome strict constraints, limited resources and lack of green spaces to ensure offenders have the best experience possible on her course.

Through the use of innovative ideas and creative projects, offenders gain skills from basic gardening techniques to the knowledge required to start their own horticulture-based business. The C&G External Moderator regularly commends the high standard of work Sue sets and the results she achieves with minimal resources.

Sue and her class have set up the Branching Out - In2 Gardens social enterprise garden centre, which sold £1,000 worth of hanging baskets and bedding plants to colleagues in its first three weeks. 

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The Story

The central aim of the enterprise project was for offenders to enhance their employability skills and demonstrate what can be achieved through forward planning and hard work. The success of the social enterprise has prompted the Governor, Tim Allen, to ask Sue and her class to be involved in expanding the project to sell items in the establishment’s Visitors' Centre.

Sue has been nominated for a NOMS Staff Recognition Award by her colleagues within the establishment. One colleague said: “It is the best floral arrangement I have seen at HMP Durham in the 25 years I have been here. The offenders that Sue has taught are knowledgeable and the outside area is a credit to this lady.”

It is the best floral arrangement I have seen at HMP Durham in the 25 years I have been here. The offenders that Sue has taught are knowledgable and the outside area is a credit to this lady.

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