Growing Health in UK Prison Settings

Baybutt, Michelle orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3201-7021, Dooris, Mark T orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5986-1660 and Farrier, Alan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4989-2209 (2018) Growing Health in UK Prison Settings. Health Promotion International, 34 (4). pp. 792-802. ISSN 0957-4824

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Globally, prisoners tend to come from marginalised and socially disadvantaged sections of society and exhibit a high incidence of ill-health, linked to social exclusion and multiple complex needs. Prisons therefore offer an important opportunity to tackle inequality and injustice, through promoting health, reducing re-offending and facilitating community reintegration.
This paper reports on and critically discusses findings from an evaluative research study, which aimed to identify and explore impacts of prisoners’ participation in an innovative social and therapeutic horticultural programme, ‘Greener on the Outside for Prisons’ (GOOP), delivered in prisons in North West England. Focus groups with 16 prisoners and semistructured
interviews with six prison staff were conducted at five sites.
Presented under three overarching themes (health and wellbeing; skills development, employability and work-preparedness; relationships), findings suggest that engagement with and participation in GOOP were important in: improving positive mental wellbeing, increasing physical activity and increasing knowledge about healthier eating; developing skills and work-readiness; and building relationships and catalysing and strengthening pro-social behaviours, important for good citizenship and effective resettlement.
The paper concludes that – in the context of the current UK prison reform agenda and concern about the high incidence of violence, substance misuse, self-harm and suicide – prison-based horticulture can offer multiple benefits and make a significant contribution to the creation of safe, secure, supportive and health-enhancing environments. Furthermore, it
contends that by joining up health and justice agendas, programmes such as GOOP have the potential to serve as powerful catalysts for wider systemic change, thereby helping tackle inequalities and social exclusion within societies across the globe.

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