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Women, rehabilitation and social enterprise

16 July 2018

Black and white sketch of women

An audience of academics, entrepreneurs and creative practitioners have heard how a social enterprise is supporting women find meaningful employment in the fashion and creative industries following release from prison.

Behind Bras, founded and led by Barbara Burton, aims to rehabilitate women ex-offenders through training and personal development linked to the design and manufacture of lingerie.

The event took place at The Clink Charity at HMP Cardiff, itself a social enterprise where prisoners deliver a dining experience while working towards qualifications and meaningful employment in the hospitality industry upon release.

Barbara’s presentation marked the launch of Behind Bras in Wales and the first step in creating a supportive network that will help sponsor and support women interested in a new start.

Barbara Burton at BehindBras launch

As well as sharing her own experience of rehabilitation, Barbara outlined the organisation’s development programme which helps women to become self-sufficient, reintegrate with society and reduce reoffending.

She explained that less than 10% of women who leave prison find a job and why she so passionately believes every woman deserves a second chance.

Working in collaboration with the Responsible Innovation Network, Barbara also aims to implement an entrepreneurial programme for Cardiff Business School students to work with women at HMP at Eastwood Park.

This collaboration will complement the School’s Public value teaching which seeks to impart to students a moral sentiment and sympathetic imagination towards the social and economic challenges of our time.

Claire Ritchie at BehindBras launch

Following Barabara’s presentation, Claire Ritchie, Associate Head of the Department of Design at the University of West of England, was invited to speak about the ways in which fashion can be a cause for good.

Approaching fashion through design, marketing and psychology Claire argued that fashion can be used to bring about societal benefits including breaking the cycle of offending, up-skilling and empowerment, and economic benefits like sustainable business modelling and product creation.

Following a lively question and answer session, the event concluded with a delicious meal at The Clink Restaurant.

To find out more about Barbara’s mission, visit the Behind Bras website.

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