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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

World First As King’s Award Presented In Prison

History was made this week as education business Coracle was presented on Monday with its King’s Award for Enterprise for promoting opportunity at a special ceremony at HMP Warren Hill prison in Suffolk.

Founder and CEO James Tweed received the award from His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston. “We could have done this ceremony in a swanky hotel in London but that wouldn’t have been right. We absolutely had to receive this award in a prison in front of the people who actually use our devices for learning and education,” said Tweed.

When Tweed organised the event, with the support of Warren Hill governor Dave Nicholson, he didn’t know it would be a world first. However, this was confirmed by the Lord Lieutenant.

“This is the first time an award like this has been presented inside a prison since the Queen’s Awards were first introduced,” said the Lord Lieutenant. “We are all very excited to be making an important piece of history today and where better to do that than here at Warren Hill in Suffolk, and in celebration of the huge success of James Tweed, and his exceptional team at Coracle.”

The Lord Lieutenant hailed the ‘pioneering work’ of Coracle, which now operates in 86 prisons in the UK, roughly 75 percent of the prison estate. Coracle has 2500 devices in use but founder James Tweed wants to significantly increase this number.

“Everyone who leaves prison should do so equipped with the right digital skills,” said the Lord Lieutenant, “Along with the self belief that they can reconnect with supportive communities and be in control of their lives. This offers hope and opportunity to ex offenders and makes such a positive impact on society as a whole."

“The potential benefits of this technology reach far beyond prison to all those who are isolated from learning, often deprived communities that can be helped to thrive and to flourish. As you often say, James, digital literacy is a right for everyone. This is ultimately about second chances and the belief that every person counts.”

Among those in attendance were men currently serving sentences at the jail who are also using Coracle’s laptops to study and complete courses from providers such as the Open University and the Prisoners' Education Trust.

James Tweed thanked the learners and the support his company receives from across the prison service and from those in government.

“Coracle works, and can only work, when it is in collaboration with the people who are before me right now,” said Tweed, “The prison education teams, prison staff Governors, our supporters in government, in particular those from HMPPS, the Ministry of Justice and, of course, the men and women who use Coracle and see it as a way to change their lives for the better.”


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