Kate visits offenders in addiction treatment unit at women's prison

Duchess of Cambridge Visits Women's Prison

The Duchess of Cambridge has heard the uplifting stories of offenders battling their addictions in a unique unit within a women's prison.

Kate sat down and chatted with the female prisoners and ex-offenders during her first trip to a jail - HMP Send near Guildford, Surrey.

A group of prisoners eat, sleep and receive treatment for their addictions within a self-contained building run by the charity RAPt (Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust) at the prison.

The Duchess is patron of the charity Action on Addiction and through her involvement with the organisation is aware that substance dependency lies at the heart of many social issues.

Send was in lock-down when Kate arrived and with its immaculate gardens, tended by the inmates, the complex of two-storey cell blocks had a tranquil air.

Kate was dressed for the occasion in a grey dress by The Fold, and before she met the prisoners had a private meeting with Dave Charity, the prison's deputy governor, Mike Trace, RAPt's chief executive, and other senior figures from both organisations.

In the RAPt centre's community room Kate sat down in a comfortable chair with a group of women all known by their first names, offender Isha, 33, and two former inmates who have successfully been through the programme, Kirsty and Lacey both 36.

On the walls were positive quotes from world figures like Nelson Mandela and Albert Einstein and an anonymous message which read "Addiction is the only disease that tells you you're alright".

Kirsty, a former heroin and crack addict, told the Duchess: "I'm eight years clean now. I walked out of these gates on the 4 August 4, 2008," adding that both her parents had been drug users and that being "clean" of substances was a concept introduced to her at Send.

The 36-year-old, who now works as an outreach worker for sex offenders in Gloucester, described an early experience that demonstrated how drug use was an everyday part of her family life.

As Kate listened intently she said: "I remember finding a margarine tub under my dad's bed and it had syringes in it, and knowing what they were for - I must have been five or six - so it was normalised."

Speaking about the Duchess' reaction to the story, Kirsty said afterwards: "She was saddened probably, anybody would be, it's not nice for anybody to hear that anybody was in that situation.

"I think what it also does is it creates some understanding, it gives a backdrop. Because you know, sometimes the way that addicts live their lifestyles we're not the greatest advertisement for humanity are we?

"And so sometimes to hear there's a potential reason, that it isn't just that we woke up one day and decided to test our families' lives and create absolute chaos in communities, there were reasons - some acceptable, some not - but there were reasons."