THE treasurer of a group that supports Erlestoke Prison is used to getting donations from businesses and fundraisers but he was amazed when an inmate decided to hand over cash he had earned working in the jail.

Mark Mangham said: “I have been involved with the Friends of Erlestoke Prison for about seven years and I have never experienced this before. It was not a lot of cash but it was equivalent to a week’s wages for the man.

“He just asked for the money to be paid to us instead of him getting it himself. Our usual donors and volunteers are a very diverse group of people but it is the first time I have known an offender to donate.

“ I was delighted and I think it shows that the offenders appreciate the work we do especially the volunteer transport service for offenders families who often travel long distances to get near the prison and would face a taxi bill to cover the last part of the journey if we did not help them.”

He also revealed that classes in the ancient Chinese paper folding art of Origami supported by the group had proved surprisingly popular.

The organisation needs to raise around £15,000 a year to keep its services going and one of its biggest fundraising events of the year is an auction of goods ranging from hampers to a helicopter flight.

The auction closes on Saturday and Mr Mangham hopes people will visit a website to make a bid. He said: “There are a number of unique prizes available at all different prizes. People and businesses have been very generous and there are a lot of bargains to be had.

“The money raised will help with a number of our projects which also include helping offenders with their health and fitness. Yoga is popular and origami has been a surprise hit. A number of offenders really enjoy it and used the technique to make their own Christmas cards.

“The work we do with the transport helps to maintain supportive family links and this has been shown to be a major component in tackling the vicious circle of reoffending.”

The group is always looking for more more volunteers to help with its work and is in need of a manager for its shop which will re-open in March.

Go to to take part in the auction.