Voices from HMP Holloway

Women in Prison was delighted to host an exhibition in Parliament of a beautiful and powerful patchwork quilt created in 2012 by women in HMP Holloway, which is now closed. Each patch tells a different story about life in prison. The quilt was made from materials found around Holloway - including a prison officer’s trousers!

You discover something new every time you look at it. The words on the border were a response to the question of what the creators of the quilt were looking forward to upon release: ‘Family, Freedom, Respect, Love, Sex, Money, and Cake’.

BirdWord, the charity behind the quilt, was formed by three staff in Holloway to give women an opportunity to express themselves creatively. They held workshops over serveral months with more than 100 women from the prison taking part.

The exhibit in Parliament had a huge impact on MPs and Peers - with many of them tweeting prictires and writing to WIP, offering their support. They included John Bird, now Baron Bird, who along with Gordon Roddick of The Body Shop, founded The Big Issue magazine, which provides homeless people with an income and an outlet for their talent.

WIP hosted this exhibit as part of our purpose to provide a platform for women in prison to share their stories and speak “truth to power”. The quilt also helped to ensure politicians didn’t ignore the impact that the closure of Holloway has had on women.