Unlocking new opportunities for prisoners

Florence, Italy

Challenge team: Biblioteca Canova Isolotto (Town Council of Florence) and Sollicciano Prison

Summary: Local volunteers are working with a small prison library in Florence to unlock the power of reading and educational opportunities to help prisoners’ reintegration into society in future.

The small library in Sollicciano Prison in Florence, Italy is cut off from the outside world, with limited opening hours, but library colleagues have big ambitions to help prisoners develop the skills they need to reintegrate upon release from prison.

Through this challenge team, the library is working with the local community to address some of the challenges faced by a large, diverse prisoner population by connecting with local volunteers outside the prison and developing a greater range of services, including Italian language learning. 

The challenge team wants to make the prison library a point of reference for prisoners – helping with their social integration as well as emphasising the importance of reading as the basis of every skill for educational opportunities and active participation in local life.

The challenge team said: “The role of reading for people limited in their freedom is very important because, through the power of imagination, they can acquire more awareness about their problems and they can build a new world in which to experiment with new positive roles.” 

In future, the challenge team hopes to create a publication with prisoners, as well as developing partnerships elsewhere in Europe.

“We are very proud to be part of the Europe Challenge,” they said. “Because we can share our experience with other colleagues from different countries. After this positive experience, we want to continue to develop this work in a network at international level.”

Local solutions to change Europe 

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