The story of Cell Workout, a Community Interest Company (CIC) born out of confinement to keep the mind and body fit and well and how +Extra funding available on Crowdfunder through the Forward Trust is supporting ex-offenders. 

‘LJ Flanders created a workout during his prison sentence as a way to stay healthy and maintain mental wellbeing during long hours locked in a cell’. He has since developed the notes he kept during this time into a book. This has formed the foundation of a rehabilitation programme, ‘delivering motivational workshops to men, women and young offender institutions across the prison estate’.

In April 2020, Cell Workout successfully crowdfunded £12,058 to launch the MADE IN HMP brand. Its planned development included the production of t-shirts which could be made in prisons, helping to diversify their income and fund further fitness work. According to LG, these fitness workshops which are designed to be delivered in prisons by former prisoners, are a good example,

‘That when you give prisoners a chance, good things can be MADE IN HMP’

£5,000 in +Extra funding was awarded to the project from the Forward Enterprise Fund, who have made a total of £100,000 available to those who are helping to break ‘the vicious cycle of reoffending and addiction across England’.

This campaign sits well in what’s known at Crowdfunder HQ, as the ‘crowdfunding sweet spot’, where it offers both a clear sentiment people can get onboard with and a great reward on offer too. 

The sentiment

With the objective of rehabilitation, any programme that can motivate someone serving a sentence to make positive change has the opportunity to resonate well with the public. Leaving prison with new skills and confidence, makes the reintroduction into society much smoother and the likelihood of reoffending much reduced. 

The rewards

With limited space and specialist equipment, a ‘cell workout’ bodyweight training guide could be equally relevant to anyone exercising at home. With the development of a new range of t-shirts to launch the ‘MADE IN HMP’ clothing brand, the use of the t-shirts as rewards themselves proved to be an excellent way to pre-sell the products and find a customer base.

When these two ingredients come together, offering a good mixture of potential donations and pledges on rewards, it increases its appeal and the opportunities to contribute. 148 people supported this campaign, who either donated because Cell Workout were doing something good in society, or they themselves wanted the book or T-shirt on offer as rewards for donating.

The future

Cell Workout exceeded their initial target of £10,400 by nearly £2,000, while receiving some excellent press in the process from the Metro, Telegraph, Guardian and Big Issue.

According to LJ, “we’ve now got a community of 40-50 different trainers from across England, Wales and Scotland, who have been able to start careers in the fitness industry since leaving prison. The impact of Covid has meant that we haven’t been able to run our workshops in prisons, we have therefore had to come up with new ways to reach inmates. We’ve since  started working with ‘National Prison Radio’ to run audio workshops and Prison TV to do some exercise films”

Cell Workout will continue to diversify their offering as a brand, both building on their opportunities for income and ensuring their sustainability. With their sights set on a Cell Workout gym, a fitness app, cookery/diet books and an extended range of athleisure wear made in English prisons, the future and opportunity to drive positive changes looks bright.

If you’re inspired to crowdfund an early stage project which is creating jobs for ex-offenders and people in recovery, start crowdfunding today and access up to £5,000 in +Extra funding from the Forward Enterprise Fund.