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Banged Up Dreams

Thanks to the National Lottery, the Henry Smith Foundation and the Collyer Fergusson Foundation we have been able to take our Inside Out Conversions project into HMP Rochester - working with a group of serving prisoners on a pilot training programme to convert a 2013 Mercedes Sprinter into a high-quality, rentable campervan.

It's given us the opportunity to not only get hands on with turning an old delivery van into something desirable and valued, but to also give something previously written off a new lease of life. The symbolism of the project certainly isn't lost on the thirteen trainees, who we are helping to make fresh plans for life 'through the gates'.

Over the past three weeks we have got everyone involved with the planning of Inside Out as a brand new social enterprise and at the same time starting to turn their ideas into plans for new businesses for them to start up on release.

Each trainee has got to grips with CAP's 5Ps business planning process, has developed viable business plans and has pitched their new business to prospective investors. Despite their surroundings, loss of liberty and the challenge of life in a prison as old as Rochester, everyone has let their ideas go wild, has been uber-creative and has enthusiastically channelled their energy into building new small businesses.

From Daniel's latino-inspired food truck through Steve's garage door refurbishment business via AJ's trainer boutique to Richard's (genuinely heartbreaking) video messaging service, each idea has been created, tested, refined and presented with not a grumble, a moan or a tut. These fellas not only have talent and enthusiasm, they also genuinely want being self-employed to be part of their rehabilitation 'on the out' and are properly committed to changing their prospects.

Must admit - it's been a real privilege working with them on this first part of the Inside Out Conversions pilot. As for the campervan creation - watch this space!

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