Fine Cell Work’s 25th anniversary: a brief for 26

*New project klaxon* We’re very excited to announce a major new project for 26, working in partnership with a unique and vital charity. Interested? Read on for more details and how to get involved.

If you believe in the importance of making a difference, here’s a project that might interest you. This is all about 26 for social change. It’s a story that begins with a prisoner stitching squares in a tiny cell and ends with extraordinary artwork on sale at Sotheby’s or quilts for three bereaved children stitched from their dad’s shirts. It’s the story of Joseph L who learned his craft in a prison cell and today lives a good life with a good living as an upholsterer in London. It’s a story that will broaden 26’s reach beyond London, from the Antarctic to Colombia, creating an impact socially, culturally and educationally and casting a light on a bleak and neglected part of society.


Fine Cell Work is a charity that makes beautiful handmade products in British prisons. Teaching prisoners high-quality needlework boosts their self-worth, instils self-discipline, fosters hope and encourages them to lead independent, crime-free lives. The unique products they make are designed in collaboration with some of the country’s leading designers and artists, are hand-produced in limited editions and sold to the general public, museums and collectors internationally.


A mega project featuring an illustrated hardback book and exhibition at one of London’s livery halls to commemorate Fine Cell Work’s 25th Anniversary.

How can you get involved?

You’ll be in excellent company. Alongside other 26ers, a number of renowned authors will be contributing. There’s a chance for 26ers with different skills to get involved:

  • Chapter writers – to write 800/1000 words of journalism/prose on a ‘hero product’, a stitched artwork, with the human stories behind it, perhaps the commissioning client, a volunteer or ex-prisoner
  • Editors – to take responsibility for a group of writers, editing and fine-tuning their work
  • Writer responsible for timeline – key moments from the last 25 years
  • Proofreaders – to make sure the book is clean and correct
  • Data storyteller – to gather and write up the critical data and KPIs
  • Poets – to write fragments to be woven throughout the book
  • Project managers – to oversee the smooth running of the project.

Beyond the pages of the book there will be further writing opportunities as the project develops. 


Fine Cell Work’s 25th Anniversary is in May 2022, which is when the exhibition will take place. Leading up to that:

  • submit your application to the team by 26 January 2020
  • your role will be allocated in March 2020
  • you’ll get your full briefing mid 2020
  • research/write late 2020
  • deliver early 2021.
  • Editing process takes place in early 2021.

How to apply

In the first instance, we invite you to send us a 250-word pitch on why you’d like to be part of the project. Please say which roles interest you. (There may be more than one.) Beyond talent, it would help us to have a sense of your community spirit and awareness. We’re interested to hear if you have experience as a volunteer or in the charity sector. Perhaps you’ve worked with the prison community before. Please also send us a piece of your writing that you’re proud of (500-1000 words in length). This is a selective project and not everyone will get to be involved. Good luck with your pitch. Please send it to with Fine Cell Work in the subject line.

From The Fine Cell Network team, Elise, Fiona, Sue, Wendy and Elen

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