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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

HMP Hewell - Hewell Grange - Redditch Library Host the Anne Frank exhibition

You're Getting Transferred, Anon, HM Prison Shotts, Highly Commended Award for Oil or Acrylic. Image courtesy of the Koestler Trust.

The events took a great deal of planning, but we had the rare opportunity of combining three separate events with HMP Hewell.In the first week we started the Anne Frank exhibition in the closed prison HMP Hewell. A group of dedicated and enthusiastic prisoners presented the exhibition to fellow inmates as well as staff, and were remarkable in their knowledge and communication skills. Everyone remarked how well they did.The event in HMP Hewell culminated with a talk from Dr Eva Schloss MBE(Holocaust survivor and Posthumous step-sister of Anne Frank.) This was extremely well attended and proved to be a highly emotional occasion. Her visit was very much appreciated by everyone especially the guides who expresssed how they had all felt honoured and humbled that she would come to speak to them. It was very moving, and you could see that Eva was very touched by this gesture.

The exhibition was then moved to Hewell Grange (Cat D prison) for the second week. Hewell Grange is a beautiful Grade 2 listed building once owned by the Earls of Plymouth until it was sold to the state, and turned into a borstal in 1946.The exhibition was set up in the Great Hall, where another set of guides/inmates were trained to present the exhibition. This they did extremely well, and were very committed to the project. The week went very well and most of the prison community and staff were able to see the exhibition there.Hewell Grange also boasts a media centre where Eva Schloss, and Project Manager Steve Gadd were both interviewed for Prison radio by inmates/radio presenters, who did a very professional job of it. Very impressive!

For the final week’s event, the exhibition was moved from the Grange to Redditch Library, where the same group of prisoners from the Grange presented the exhibition to the general public.This was a first for the Prison Project, in having the exhibition presented by prisoners outside of a prison environment, and turned out to be a great success. The prisoners were at first quite nervous about working with the public, but it turned out to be a great success, and everyone concerned got a great deal from this experience. The overwhelming majority of comments from the public were very positive and supportive of the prisoner’s efforts. A member of the Independent monitoring board and his wife dropped in unannounced, and was so impressed he informed the Chair of IMB Tony Roper who in return wrote to Governor of HMP Hewell to commend what they were doing.

All Library staff said that the men had behaved impeccably whilst they were there,and would miss working with them when the event was over and they returned to Hewell Grange.This had been a remarkable experience. Well done to all, and special thanks to Governor Stephanie Roberts-Bibby, Darryl Jones and Mike Williams from Education/Diversity dept, and to Redditch Head Librarian Jodie Ford.

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