A few months ago, a friend working for the organisation UNLOCKED reached out to me. Unlocked is a two-year programme, designed to train graduates as prison officers. My friend had heard the word BEES and put me in touch with Daisy, who was a graduate in her second year of the scheme and had managed to set up two hives in a prison. Daisy was training at HMP Hindley, Wigan, and was looking for some support and advice about beekeeping.
We had an initial zoom call with her to establish whether Beeble could help. The moment Daisy spoke, my computer screen lit up and so did I as she radiated her light and enthusiasm. Daisy talked us through how she had cut through masses of red tape and had managed to get lots of her ‘lads’ at Hindley interested in bees.
I was completely inspired by Daisy’s enthusiasm and spirit. Her ‘can do’ attitude and positive nature really motivated me to want to help. I rang the Beeble team and they were all on board. Harry, our creative had an idea to run a class to help design a label for Hindley honey. In addition, Matt, my co-founder, offered for Beeble to pay for the labels and jars to help sponsor the project.
A few weeks later, Harry and I got on the train up to Manchester to meet Daisy and spend a day at the prison. We had planned to run a class and share our honey harvesting skills and secrets.
Visiting the prison was an experience in itself. On arrival, Daisy kitted up with her baton, radio, and endless keys and then gave us an extensive tour of the prison and of the garden where her hives were kept. We were also introduced to the prison Chaplin, Jay, who has been at Hindley for a long time and has always been a strong supporter of Daisy’s project to help out her lads. He showed us around his aviary and apiary and chaplaincy. The Chaplaincy had a calming feel to it and was clearly an important and beneficial place for the prisoners to visit during their sentences.
Our session with the prisoners began with tea and biscuits. It was a really rewarding session particularly as everyone there had so many ideas for the label design and how to market ‘HONEY FROM HINDLEY’.
One of the inmates gave Harry and I a beautiful swan each, which he had made using origami paper. He initially gave me the smaller of the two. Later, he realised that I am actually Harry’s mum, he swapped them and gave me the larger one…good change I thought!
Tom, who was excited about having only a month of his sentence left, came up with a brilliant design. He worked on it with Harry and we left the session with a strong idea of how it would look.
In addition, another prisoner, Kyle, came up with an excellent idea for next year. He proposed that every inmate should design a unique label for each jar of honey. This would enable a higher price point. One inmate also suggested we could water the honey down to make more cash – unfortunately we had to explain that this creates mead!
Overall, it was a hugely rewarding trip and gave us a real insight into the huge impact Daisy’s project is having on her prisoners. We have now had the labels made and the team at Hindley were thrilled with the results! I hope that we can continue our relationship with HMP Hindley in the future.
Written by Nicola