Outreach at HMP Northumberland



Over the past few months, the UCB project team has been working with the Education team at HMP Northumberland to share the story of the Union Chain Bridge, and its conservation, with their residents.

With careful planning, considering the needs of the residents and the restrictions of delivering an activity at HMP Northumberland, the UCB team designed two sessions. The first session was an interactive talk about the history of the bridge, why & how it was to be conserved and the variety of STEM-related roles required to restore it. The second session was an interactive workshop based around a cooperative game; working in teams residents will deliver the Union Chain Bridge conservation using project management principles and techniques. Both sessions were delivered to two different groups of residents in January.

The UCB team are pleased with the format of the second session and wants to share a bit more about what was involved. The residents were introduced to project management and some tools that are used by project managers e.g. risk registers* and Gantt charts**.  Working in groups they were assigned roles and went on to plan the project using a Gantt chart to schedule tasks, calculate costs and allocate staff to different tasks. Once everything was planned the residents moved through the tasks on the Gantt chart using a dice to determine progress, along the way they encountered unforeseen events, had to give progress reports and keep their budget up to date. Once completed the residents reflected on what it was like to run a project and some of the challenges they encountered along the way.

Here is some feedback from the residents that took part in the activities:

‘It was very interesting; we enjoyed the history of it.’

‘I’ve never thought about project management before, and I found this really interesting in terms of how to plan for a large project including timetable issues.’

“I really enjoyed it; it was a fun team-building project”

“I found the challenge we did in the afternoon good, having to work in teams to complete the project”

And some from the Education Team at HMP Northumberland:

“Well presented project that in my view enriched the learning abilities of all attendees”

The UCB team enjoyed bringing the story of the bridge to a new audience. The rich heritage of The Union Chain Bridge has something for everyone to find interesting, enjoyable or relatable. The project team also thought it was a unique opportunity to showcase the great opportunities within STEM sectors that are open to prison leavers. 

Following the successful sessions in January, the UCB team are planning to work with artist Claire Beattie to create art inspired by the Union Chain Bridge with residents in May. Catering groups at HMP Northumberland are also planning to get involved in the Union Chain Bridge Bake-Off competition, more information coming soon!

Do you like the idea of the project management game? Get in touch if you have a group that might be interested in having a go!

*A risk register is a way of keeping track of all the risks (things that could go wrong) in a project. It is checked frequently throughout a project and contains strategies and plans to reduce the chances of things going wrong.

** A Gantt chart is like a big timetable for your project, the tasks go down the side and time (weeks or months) along the top. Each task blocks out an amount of time and some tasks are dependent on others; this means another task might need to be completed before one can start. Gantt charts change throughout the life of a project because all sorts of things can happen that cause delays or make tasks take longer than initially planned.