HMP Leeds inmates fundraise to support city's rough sleepers as part of reform project

Prisoners at HMP Leeds have embarked on a fundraising project to help the city's homeless.

Prisoners at HMP Leeds have started a fundraising project for homelessness charity Simon On The Streets

Some 50 rough sleepers have been helped from donations from inmates at the Armley prison, with around £100 and food donations being sourced by prisoners.

Simon On The Streets, a charity which aids rough sleepers across West Yorkshire, said it was contacted by inmate Joe Outlaw who wanted to start a social reform project last year alongside a fellow prisoner, Luke.

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The prisoners set up a group called System Grown with the aim of "spreading as much kindness as possible."

In a letter written to Simon On The Streets, Outlaw wrote: "There is so much pain and suffering in our world at the moment, so much sadness and hurt. We want to show some kindness and love wherever possible and with that ‘System Grown’ was formed.”

“All the people that Simon on the Streets work with daily, including myself, have no doubt made many mistakes for whatever reason but there is not one single bit of judgement from them. Nothing but love and kindness which in itself is a beautiful thing.”

Sean Kelly, custodial manager at the prison, said: "Joe is an IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) prisoner in our incentivised substance free living (ISFL) wing who came to us asking what he could do to build up his credibility and give something back.

"We asked him to take on the role of peer support worker to support all 145 inmates in the wing and he has thrived in communicating with fellow prisoners, providing support and resource packs. His workload is immense.

"Joe comes up with lots of ideas, one of which was prior to Christmas to work with a designated charity to offer food and donations from the ISFL wing via the design a Christmas jumper competition.”

Natalie Moran, chief executive of Simon on the Streets said: “We were surprised to receive a letter from Leeds prisoners but gladly welcomed Joe, Luke and the other inmates support for our cause.

"A prison may seem like an unlikely place to receive charitable support, but they have been amazing in helping us to feed a further 50 people across the streets of Leeds. Joe has been keeping us updated with further fundraising plans, as well as spreading the word about Simon on the Streets to fellow inmates who may need our help.”