For many of us, wearing office attire like suits and high heels, is extremely routine and non-exciting. However, a majority of prisoners have no clue on how to dress for a job or what a nice suit can do to their look and confidence. Smart Works Edinburgh is developing strong relationships with Cornton Vale and Edinburgh prisons with the aim of creating awareness of our services so that we can support prisoners once they have been released.
As part of this project a team of Smart Works volunteers recently worked closely with a group of women prisoners and created a fashion show for their fellow inmates. Excitement, terror, embarrassment and fear of the unknown were some of the emotions experienced by both prisoners and volunteers at the start of the day.
The models aglow with fake tan, hair done and make up on, were eager, excited and nervous. Dressed in SW’s finest attire they looked fantastic. Some of them had never worn a skirt or dress before let alone high heels but they completely embraced the whole experience overcoming their anxiety and ready to give it their all. After a volunteer introduced the charity, the DJ played songs selected by the girls and for 50 minutes the unit was filled with music, laughter, applause as the girls strutted their stuff in front of the crowd of fellow inmates.
The grand finale was lead by the much respected unit manager, Helen, who came on in an emerald green mac with a black and gold spotty satchel leading the girls out one more time which finished the whole event off perfectly.
Helen, the unit manager, said:
“the buzz of the show will stay with the women and staff in the unit for a long time and will help with morale and general well being”
Quote from one of the volunteers:
“Today we all got to see young women who needed to feel valued in themselves, to feel pride and to see that they had something to offer the world. From the laughter and smiles coupled with nervous energy 6 young women got to feel like young women who weren’t judged on what they had done but felt special and hopefully the event inspired them to see that there are people out there to be part of their new journey.”
We had some good feedback from the prisoners as well. The best being:
“Do it more often. When’s the next one?”
This event has been a milestone in Smart Works Edinburgh’s journey.
For those soon to be released there is now awareness of the service provided by Smart Works and the sensitivity and caring nature of the volunteers has had a powerful impact on them. We will continue to work with the prison to ensure that they encourage prisoners to use our services on release and support these prisoners back into employment.