Prisoners having origami classes and decorating their cells with their creations

Prisoners are having classes in the Japanese art of origami as they decorate their cells with their creations.

Paper folding was introduced as a way of fighting stress at HMP Hewell, Worcs, as the Japanese art form has previously been associated with focus and mindfulness.

The unusual step was taken while inmates were locked down during Covid-19 as a way for them to cope with the stresses of the pandemic.

It seems to have been successful, as some sources said that many prisoners who took the classes were adorning their cells with paper dragons, birds, and flower designs.

A prison source said: “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, but they have really taken to it.

"Grown men are spending hours making beautiful little objects for their cells. It has a real therapeutic effect.”

A report by the Independent Monitoring Board said that the origami programme in the prison had been a huge success.

It said: “An extensive origami project set up on the initiative of a prisoner appears to have had a marked impact on the mental health and stability of many men in the prison.”

It also said an art project to decorate walkways on prison landings had lifted spirits, adding that the project “has had an immediate and very visible impact on the appearance of the prison.”

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The practice of origami was originally used mainly for religious purposes as the paper required to do it was very expensive, but as paper became more widely available and mass produced it became a popular form of recreation.

Now, some mental health groups suggest origami as a useful way to improve hand-eye co-ordination and concentration.

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