menu ☰
menu ˟

Growing health in UK prison settings

29 May 2018

AbstractGlobally, prisoners tend to come from marginalized and socially disadvantaged sections of the society and exhibit a high incidence of ill health, linked to social exclusion and multiple complex needs. Prisons therefore offer an important opportunity to tackle inequality and injustice, through promoting health, reducing reoffending and facilitating community reintegration.This paper reports on and critically discusses findings from an evaluative research study, which aimed to identify and explore impacts of prisoners’ participation in an innovative social and therapeutic horticultural programme, ‘Greener on the Outside for Prisons’ (GOOP), delivered in prisons in North West England. Focus groups with 16 prisoners and semi-structured interviews with six prison staff were conducted at five sites. Presented under three overarching themes (health and well-being; skills development, employability, and work preparedness; and relationships), findings suggest that engagement with and participation in GOOP were important in improving positive mental well-being, increasing physical activity and knowledge about healthier eating; developing skills and work readiness; and building relationships and catalysing and strengthening prosocial behaviours, important for good citizenship and effective resettlement. The paper concludes that – in the context of the current UK prison reform agenda and concern about the high incidence of violence, substance misuse, self-harm and suicide – prison-based horticulture can offer multiple benefits and make a significant contribution to the creation of safe, secure, supportive and health-enhancing environments. Furthermore, it contends that by joining up health and justice agendas, programmes such as GOOP have the potential to serve as powerful catalysts for wider systemic change, thereby helping tackle inequalities and social exclusion within societies across the globe.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Health Promotion International