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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Fresh food – a fresh start

By Will MetcalfeTHE driving force behind a new social enterprise hopes its success could help to regenerate the town.

Arete Enterprises is a partnership between Cumbria Reducing Offending Partnership Trust (CROPT) and HMP Haverigg to help expand the reach of its farm and gardens, woodworking and smokery businesses.

The new partnership was unveiled at a special launch event at the Lindeth Howe Hotel, in Bowness, this week along with plans that will see an online shop launched to broaden the sales area for the prison’s range of smoked goods, fresh foods and woodwork.

Ian Clarke, a CROPT trustee, said: “It is quite exciting that we are going to have an online shop.

“What I would like to see is that the business grows to the extent that we start to get feeder businesses in Millom and in that in turn will help to regenerate the area.”

One of the first ventures will see the smokery become the first external institution to attend Billingsgate Market for a day later this month selling its smoked fish.

Morag Hopkins, who works in the smokery, said: “It’s the first time anyone from outside has been able to exhibit. It’s really exciting.”

Foundations for the partnership were laid by recently departed governor Steve Valentine, who attended the launch event.

He said: “For me the pride is that I can hand over to new governor Tony Corcoran on the basis that Haverigg is moving forward with a huge amount of innovation.

“You know you’ve got it right when head office want to know why something so simple in process is not being done around the service.

“Prisoners can pick up real qualifications while doing real work.”

David Peacock, chairman of CROPT, said: “The things produced at Haverigg are excellent. We will be selling goods across the country.”

It is hoped a webshop for the new enterprise will soon follow to help bolster its business.

Dave Everett, head of reducing reoffending at HMP Haverigg, said: “Arete is a brand but it is essentially two organisations coming together and working together.

“We have the capacity to meet the local market as a prison but together we can go beyond that.

“We’re working our way to get prisoners in the culture of getting up and going to work – reducing reoffending is what this is about.”

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