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Prisoners offered yoga classes and ‘mindfulness’ activities to improve their mental health


Dublin's Mountjoy Prison.

Dublin's Mountjoy Prison.

Dublin's Mountjoy Prison.

Prisoners are being offered morning and afternoon yoga classes and ‘mindfulness’ activities in an attempt to improve their mental health.

Meanwhile cut price haircuts were offered from a prisoner-run barber’s shop called ‘ConHair’ the the Midlands Prison.

These are just some of the activities recorded in a new report highlighting a series of initiatives overseen by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) aimed at improving the mental health of prisoners and preparing them for their eventual return to society.

The new 2019 annual report by the Inspector of Irish Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, states that along with the morning and afternoon yoga classes at Mountjoy Prison, inmates can also take part in cookery classes or learn to play the guitar or keyboard.

They can also take part in circuit training, crafts or ‘mindfulness’ activities.

The report records that prisoners on certain wings were treated to a bingo and comedy show in October 2019.

The report also records that Mountjoy prisoners enjoyed a guest lecture on the visit to Ireland of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

It also reveals that a barber’s shop, aptly named ‘ConHair’, was set up in November 2019 at the Midlands Prison offering haircuts at a knock down price.

The workshop was managed by a prisoner with support from the chief work and training officer as well as staff on the wing and those who availed of the service made a donation of €2 to charities.

Meanwhile at the Shelton Abbey open prison, amenities include a barber shop, football pitch, walking track and a men’s shed.

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Ms Gilheaney reported that one of the main quality initiatives in Shelton Abbey was the opportunity by prisoners to purchase a mobile phone with call and text features only.

“This initiative allows the men to maintain family contact, an ethos which Shelton Abbey strongly supported and promoted as part of the men’s progression,” she said.

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