Prisoners guided fellow inmates and staff of Pentonville prison around an exhibition about the life of Anne Frank last week, as part of a project that aims to challenge prejudice and racial hatred.
The eight guides in the high-security London prison each volunteered to be trained by the Anne Frank Trust. They learned about Anne Frank’s life and death, the Holocaust and more recent genocides in Sudan and Rwanda.
Steve Gadd, the trust’s Prison Project manager, said that although the project aims to confront prejudices, he just presented the facts. "It’s much more powerful for people to come to their own conclusions.”
At the closing ceremony of the exhibition each guide was presented with a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary and for the first time since the project began ten years ago, a letter from the chief rabbi, which was read by Melvyn Hartog of the United Synagogue.
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said: “Anne Frank wrote: ‘Isn't it wonderful that none of us need wait a moment before starting to change the world.’ By helping out in this special exhibition and dedicating your time to this worthy cause, you have done your own little bit to help fulfil Anne Frank’s dream of making the world a better place.”
Tariq, one of the guides, spoke about how much he had gained from the project. Mr Gadd explained: “There is a huge amount they can take away, emotional and practical, things like empathetic engagement, communicating with other prisoners, or speaking in public.”
The project has been running since 2002 and has visited over 50 prisons around the UK.