Making for Change

Making for Change is a fashion training and manufacturing programme operating from two fully equipped sites: HMP Downview and Poplar Works. 

Established in 2014 by the Ministry of Justice and London College of Fashion, the programme was founded at HMP Downview women’s prison in Sutton, Surrey. The project aim is to create a supportive environment in which to increase well-being and reduce reoffending rates amongst the participants through equipping them with professional skills and qualifications.

In 2020 the second phase of the programme opened in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, named Making for Change: Poplar Works.  This second unit has a community focus, which delivers fashion programmes to overlooked community groups from one of the most deprived boroughs in the country, as well as female ex-offenders.  

Making for Change believes that employment, when supported by appropriate education and training, is key to economic and social independence as well as reducing reoffending in women. Both units run industrial workshops which offer high quality commercial production services alongside the delivery of nationally recognised qualifications. The participants at both units therefore receive valuable work experience as part of their training. Furthermore, the programme’s relationship with manufacturers ensures that the training reflects current industry standards and also offers links to potential employers upon completion of the programme, or upon release from HMP Downview. 

Making for Change: Downview and, more recently, Making for Change: Poplar Works, have been producing Bethany Williams’ T-shirt and jersey garments since the Women of Change AW18 collection.  

“When I first received my sentence and went into prison, I was shocked and scared... I had no previous sewing experience – I was taught how to use a sewing machine and after four months I had passed my Level 1 qualification in Fashion and Textiles.” – participant of Making for Change, HMP Downview 

“My teacher is so patient and has encouraged me to progress. I have achieved so much during my time here. Knowing that someone believes that I can do something gives me something to work towards and focus on so I will have a better future.”  – participant of Making for Change, HMP Downview  

Find out more about the Making for Change project.