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Through a collaborative approach, Coventry University researchers have established the efficacy of building relationships and humanising environments in prisons, creating pathways to more effective rehabilitative interventions.



Although rehabilitation is a key aim of all UK prisons, roughly 30% of those incarcerated reoffend. Rehabilitative interventions are of variable effectiveness and do not always enhance the lives of incarcerated individuals.



Coventry University’s rehabilitative research has used a collaborative methodological approach to identify how design, delivery, and support for key stakeholders can facilitate effective rehabilitative interventions.

Research began with an evaluation of the Master Gardener programme, a pilot programme based on a gardening intervention for substance misusing prisoners. Further studies have examined community land-based interventions such as food growing and construction projects, as well as interventions delivered by faith-based organisations.



The collaborative and applied nature of this rehabilitative research has impacted policymakers, organisations delivering rehabilitative interventions, and participants.

In January 2018, MP Rebecca Pow referenced this research to advocate for ‘using gardening as a therapeutic intervention’.

Through generating evidence on what works, how and why, research has broadened expertise on rehabilitative environments and enabled an evidence-assured approach to ‘commissioning decisions’.

Ultimately, research has helped charities and prisons reflect on their rehabilitation interventions and find ways to better support participants. Coventry University researchers have engaged directly with 80 individuals in prison interventions, who have reported improvements to personal wellbeing, self-esteem, and self-control.


More information

Institution: Coventry University 

Researchers: Dr Geraldine Brown, Dr Geraldine Brady, Elizabeth Bos, Professor Moya Kneafsey, Dr Jana Fried, Rebecca Crookes, Dr Marilena Kyriakidou

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Effective prison and community-based interventions: building humanising rehabilitative environments. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>