Hand taking notes with pencil in study book, with Garfield Weston logo

The Garfield Weston Foundation is helping people in prison rebuild their lives

James Harris walking through applauding audience to accept award
Garfield Weston’s grant will help offenders like James turn their lives around

The Garfield Weston Foundation, a family-founded UK trust, has been supporting charities for over 50 years - including educators who can demonstrate excellence. Now, the Foundation is supporting a new initiative to bring education to those most in need of a second chance; men and women in prison, keen to break the cycle of reoffending. 

A grant of £600,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation will enable 150 prisoners each year to study free level 1 courses with The Open University (OU). Education is proven to reduce crime rates and can improve employment prospects, benefiting both offenders and wider society. 

Philippa Charles, Director of the Foundation, said, “The Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation are delighted to support this project, which will enable men and women in prison to develop their personal confidence, capabilities and improve their chances of securing employment on release. We believe in the power of education in transforming lives, and look forward to seeing the transformative effect that improved access to higher education brings to individuals in prison across England and Wales.”

James Harris shows how the Garfield Weston Foundation’s support will help ex-offenders like him turn their lives around through education. After leaving school, James found himself in prison aged 23 for drug-related offences. But he used the time inside to further his education with the OU and mentored 30 fellow offenders while he studied. 

James recently won the ‘Into Work’ Inspire! Award and was named adult learner of the year. His long-term goal is to work in the field of drug therapy. “I was fortunate enough to get funding throughout my studies and I’m looking for a job where I can give back to the community.”

The three-year pilot scheme to help prisoners access Higher Education is also supported by £300,000 from the Open University Students Educational Trust charity, and will be delivered in partnership with Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET).