LCF praised for work with offenders
London College of Fashion is proving that fashion is about more than just clothing by getting involved with local communities.
The college recently won a Green Gown award for social responsibility for their work with female offenders.
The project, funded by the Sir John Cass Foundation, involved 10 second year students on the BA Womenswear course visiting female offenders in prison and making jackets from scratch.
Camilla Howarth, LCF’s Special Projects Manager, told Arts London News why they decided to work solely with female offenders: "Only six per cent of total UK prison population are women, meaning the specific needs of women prisoners are often overlooked.
"The Corsten Report (2007) highlighted how women offenders need a distinct, radically different, visibly-led, strategic, holistic and woman-centred approach to allow them to develop self-confidence and the capacity to form relationships based on trust and respect.”
The female offenders were not the only ones to benefit from the project.
Clair Swift, LCF Programme Director, also felt that the workshop sessions helped give the LCF students a perspective shift.
She said: “it enabled the students to make a connection with a different sector of society.”
One of the students involved said: “It has opened my eyes up to a whole area of which I would not have thought before, such as women in prison, women’s rights in prison, and why prisons don’t do more for their prisoners to help them reform”.
A fellow student also commented: “I learnt quite a lot from the women. Some were really experienced in craft techniques, such as quilting…. Talking to the prisoners and watching how they worked has given me lots of ideas for my own project.”
Plans to run a similar project this year are currently being finalised.
This time LCF students from the School of Media and Communication will work with the prisoners to develop their skill.
This will lead them into employment and give them educational opportunities.
“Although this next project will have a very different subject focus, the structure of the project will, however, be the same – ie LCF students working alongside serving offenders – and the end product will be a newspaper, or series of newspapers, that will be geared towards the female prison population,” Howarth said.
“This is just one of many projects LCF students undertake with community groups, both in the UK and internationally, and we value such opportunities highly.”