Established as a charity in 2004, Friends of Guys Marsh is committed to supporting the important and challenging rehabilitation work that takes place at HMP Guys Marsh.Crime wastes lives, harms others and costs the public purse: the average annual cost per prisoner in a UK Category C prison is £32,215 and the re-offending rate is high, with an estimated cost of between £9-£13 billion each year. We believe that by supporting the prison community near us, we can play a part in helping prisoners to return to a better, crime-free life on completion of their sentences.

In collaboration with prison staff and agencies, we work proactively and responsively to support prisoners, prison staff and prisoners’ families. Our projects are varied in scale and duration, many requiring considerable financial input, although it sometimes only takes a small sum with well-tailored and targeted help to set one person on his path towards effective rehabilitation and resettlement into society.

HMP Guys Marsh

HMP Guys MarshHMP Guys Marsh is a Category C (lowest category of a secure prison) training prison in rural north Dorset, six miles from Gillingham and two miles from Shaftesbury. In addition to its role as a training prison, it has been designated to become one of the country’s new Resettlement Prisons, where short-sentenced offenders and those coming towards the end of longer sentences from the local region will serve their terms and be prepared for resettlement back into their home area.

The prison can accommodate up to 579 adult male prisoners. The prison has 8 accommodation units of which two are for enhanced status prisoners (who have earned certain privileges), one is a Care and Segregation Unit, for prisoners who have serious behavioural problems, and one is a special unit for prisoners on long sentences. Another unit is the prison’s Kainos wing, where resident prisoners will commit themselves to a six month Challenge to Change programme, based on self-help, community living, focus, interpersonal relationships and citizenship.

After security, HMP Guys Marsh’s emphasis is on rehabilitation. Work, education and training is provided at the prison: training with vocational qualifications is available in bricklaying, plastering and painting and industrial cleaning; work is available including estate maintenance, industrial cleaning, laundry and kitchen, as well as work in a set of dedicated workshops delivering contracted work to commercial companies; the prison’s current education provider delivers courses in literacy and numeracy as well as training in communication skills, customer service, catering, barbering, IT and business administration. The prison also has a well-equipped library and caters for English-speaking and Foreign National prisoners’ reading requirements.

HMP Guys Marsh runs the P-ASRO (Prison – Addressing Substance-Related Offending) programmes to address offending caused by drug or substance misuse, ISMS (Integrate Substance Misuse Service), RESOLVE (Anger Management programme) and AA/NA (Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous). It also runs the Thinking Skills Project and works closely with over 40 partner organisations to address educational, social and health challenges, among them Alcoholics Anonymous, Barnardo’s and the British Legion.

The prison aims to be environmentally-responsible; a bio-mass boiler heats the prison using locally sourced wood chips, thus considerably reducing its heating costs and its reliance on oil and its CO2 emissions by around 1000 tonnes per year. A Bioplex anaerobic digester processes all the prison’s food waste, turning it into compost used in the grounds, as well as bio-fuel which is used in turn to power it. The prison grows a considerable amount of its own food (nearly 5 tonnes in 2011) using poly-tunnels, greenhouses and cultivated ground in the prison grounds. On average, over 20 prisoners are employed on the farms and another 16 in the grounds.

For maps and directions to the prison and the Nordcat (visitor's bus) see the Map and Directions.