Prisoners will be able to ‘serve their thyme’ at a new farm shop on Portland.

HMP Portland/YOI officially opened a new farm shop at the Governor’ Garden at the Grove on Monday.

The shop is a new project being ran in partnership with charity Expia Ltd.

The aim is for risk-assessed prisoners from the HMP Portland Young Offenders Institute to work at the farm shop, where they will be able to gain work experience in retail and customer care.

Speaking at the official opening Steve Hodson, HMP/YOI Portland Governor, said: “Currently fewer than a fifth of prisoners who get released from custody go on to meaningful employment when they get released and that’s got to change, we’ve got to change that. The training that’s provided here helps us to do that by making prisoners have that opportunity in realistic work, by them gaining those qualifications we are making a real difference to people’s lives and if someone gets employment when released it’s statistically proven that they’re less likely to commit more crime. Reoffending costs society £15 billion every single year and just by making a difference to one life we can make a real impact to that and that’s what we’re all about.”

Providing employment experience and skills inside prison is essential as two thirds of prisoners are unemployed at the time that they enter custody.

Mr Hodson also said: “After the success of the Jailhouse Cafe since it reopened we are delighted to get the Portland Farm Shop up and running. This enables us to engage offenders in real work and training, which develops routes to successful employment, rehabilitation and resettlement safely back into the community.”

Sally Birch, Chairman of Expia Ltd, said: ““This is an exciting time for Expia, having the Farm Shop opens means that we can offer a different work opportunity for offenders eligible for ROTL and that the same time provide a service for the Portland community.”

The Farm shop is open to everyone and offers people the opportunity to purchase plants, garden produce, baskets etc as well as Jailhouse merchandise. It is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 – 3pm.

Businesses who are interested in employing an ex-offender upon release can register their interest at