A South Cumbrian prison is at the forefront of a major national tree planting drive which has seen all 320 men in the Queen’s Green Canopy mission.
Marking Her Majesty’s platinum ‘plant a tree for jubilee’, HMP Haverigg is playing a key role in the event thanks to support from University of Cumbria’s Back on our Map (BOOM) project.
Backed by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, it has worked extensively with prison residents on widespread measures for species reintroduction and given every one of them two native broadleaf saplings for the 150-acre site.
Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, Claire Hensman, joined the workforce, while BOOM manager, Jo Sayers, paid tribute to a ‘phenomenal effort’ and Haverigg’s commitment to the environment.
She said: “With trees provided by OVO Energy, we are delighted that every resident has been invited to take part.
“Ours is a far-reaching, four-year reintroduction programme for 10 threatened species. We reach out, with help from Morecambe Bay Partnership, to communities with pioneering actions, encouraging people to reconnect with nature.
“Now a Category D prison, the residents have embraced our goals and ambitions with incredible enthusiasm, from growing literally thousands of cowslip plants for Duke of Burgundy butterflies, to welding some of the old fences for tree protection.
“Nursery areas and a nature park have been established, with the men growing and planting aspen trees. The Queen’s Green Canopy provided a perfect opportunity for more onsite native species.
“It’s great to see their interest in wildlife and skills blossom. Some are making nest boxes for our hazel dormouse re-introduction project. As well as improving wellbeing, there are benefits for when sentences end and they are released.
“It would be lovely if Her Majesty got to hear of our green canopy work.”
Haverigg’s head of reducing reoffending, Stuart Jeynes, said on the back of COP26 and sustainability targets there was a growing awareness of the natural world.
He added: “Community work is an important element for us to link with the outside world and BOOM has brought unique opportunities.
“Not only has it created a pathway to upskilling and maintaining skills, but also for getting ready for life outside prison.
“Residents wanted to get involved and make a difference, to help create an environment where nature and our men can flourish. They will be able to demonstrate a payback to the community when applying for jobs.”
Paul said BOOM was helping him as he prepares for his sentence finishing.
He explained: “It makes me feel good to be giving something back to the community and environment. I’m looking to do charity and voluntary work on my release.”
Craig said he had enjoyed learning about trees and butterflies, adding: “Having this chance will help increase my employability and I’ll carry-on when I leave as I'm looking towards garden work.”
Nature-based work is also led by University of Central Lancashire as part of the Greener on the Outside for Prisons Programme (GOOP).
* Visit BOOM on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BackOnOurMap
* Pictured (l-r): BOOM's Heather Marples with Cumbria's Lord Lieutenant, Claire Hensman, and HMP Haverigg governor, Adam Connolley.