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Riding rehab for ex-prisoners

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Photo credit: Josh Olins

Making the move from the shady underbelly of London and Bristol, ex-offenders head to stunning Somerset to start their new lives – with a little help from horses

All horse owners can attest to the therapeutic value of a day spent at the yard enjoying our equine pal’s company. Whatever your background, horses bring a sense of calm and peace to life that’s tough to achieve amid the bustle of our everyday lives. But it’s not just horse owners who benefit from the therapeutic powers of equines. Even those from a suburban or city background – who may have never enjoyed the company of a horse before – are able to benefit from some quality time spent with them.

The 40th anniversary edition of i-D Magazine features 10 unlikely models – all ex-offenders hailing from London and Bristol. Each man has benefitted from crime-prevention charity Key4Life and its equine therapy programmes. The gorgeous shoot, which has conducted in Somerset and been used to create a four-minute feature film, took place in and around the Key4Life offices and captures the transformation from offenders to honest and hard-working members of society.

Founder and CEO of Key4Life, Eva Hamilton MBE, said: “This film and feature dispel the myths and prejudices about former offenders. It was incredible to see our young men looking so elegant ­– a fitting tribute to how far they’ve come. Key4Life’s programmes are a testament to the fact that, given a second chance in life, men with an offending background can transform into honest, hard-working citizens, contributing and giving back to life.”

The rehabilitation programme offers men who’ve been to prison, or run the risk of going, the opportunity to build resilience and fast-track their employment through a combination of equine therapy, music, football, boxing, mentorship and enjoying nature. The programme’s success speaks for itself – 64% of inmates reoffend within a year of getting out of prison, but this figure falls to 14% for graduates of Key4Life’s rehabilitation programme. Not only that, but it costs just £5,000 to put an ex-prisoner through the programme, compared to an annual cost of £37,000 in prison.

Max Clark, Senior Fashion Editor for i-D, who styled the shoot, said: “The idea of equine therapy and ex-offenders interacting in a countryside landscape felt so unique, we instantly knew it would generate amazing imagery and it felt a perfect fit for i-D’s 40th anniversary celebrations.”

For more information, visit key4life.org.uk

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