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Goodbye prison – Hello society

”The Inmates Social Inclusion Project” prepares the inmates at State Prison Horseroed to return to society. Educational counsellor and project coordinator Gitte Lumholdt talks about the inclusion project, which also consist of partners in Poland, Hungary and Italy.

To walk away from prison, towards freedom – this must be every inmates dream. But according to Gitte Lumholdt, Educational counsellor at State Prison Horseroed, this is not the case.

“Imagine that you would be having dinner with the Queen: You would most likely feel misplaced and be afraid to do something wrong. This is the same way some inmates feel, when they are released into the real world”, says Gitte Lumholdt.

“It must be difficult, because where in society are they going? The code of conduct differs from the one they know from behind the bars, and some of the inmates don’t have any kind of education.”

As a result of this Gitte Lumholdt points out the need for inclusion projects in situations where marginalised groups are incorporated into larger groups, in this case society. And that is why she also serves as project coordinator for ”The Inmates Social Inclusion Project” – a Grundtvig learning partnership with Poland, Hungary and Italy – which prepares the inmates to meet society again.

“We have created a PPP (public–private partnership) in cooperation with a vocational school, a scaffolding company and High:Five, which assists companies in developing social responsibility. The partnership is on its third round, and you can put it like this: we deliver the raw material, the school teaches and the company hires,” Gitte Lumholdt says and explains that many employees in the scaffolding industry have a past in prison, because in this industry  they are not required to produce a clean criminal record.

Gitte Lumholdt explains:”The idea is: Why not educate them, while they’re in prison? That is why we are recruiting them from the different departments and workshops. Several inmates have actually requested a project like this, so we have been very positive received – also among the employees."


Focus on the individual

Gitte explains that the inmates who accept the offer receive a three-week system-scaffolding course with education each day from 8 am to 3 pm. Here they lean to build scaffolding. The highest ones reach 26 meters. In addition there is a 3-4 weeks course with an educators from AMU (continuing education in Denmark), and the atmosphere is, in general, good and concentrated during the courses.

The four countries in the partnership have three overall themes, which is targeted the employees in the prison sector:

  • To develop a guide that informs about good-to-know practises when you’re working with inclusion;
  • To look at the theoretical background;  
  • To focus on the ethical considerations.

“We should not just push our project down the inmates’ throats, but approach them as individuals with different needs”, Gitte Lumholdt points out and mentions the word humility: “It is vulnerable individuals, we are dealing with.”


Success to receive a diploma

The countries have different approaches to inclusion: Italy is working a lot with the family relations, Poland with employment, while Denmark has focused on education. All of the 20 seats where filled at the latest course, and the goal is that about 1/3 will continue in the industry.

But just getting a small sample of an educational course is a success, Gitte Lumholdt says: ”This morning one inmate said: “It has been great to be a part of it”, and even though he wouldn’t move on in the scaffolding industry, he could use the learning outcome as a launching point”.

Furthermore, Gitte Lumholds is happy to see how the inmates are motivating each other to accept the courses:

”It is contagious, when some of the harder inmates say yes. And even though, it is not all of them who completes the entire course, each of them receives a diploma for the courses they complete. It can be a very successful experience for a guy with no education”.

Resource Details
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Cindy Maria Vinløv
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Case Study
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