Skip to content
Journeys of Discovery:

Journeys of Discovery – Katy Emck OBE

About This Episode

We are excited to bring you the second episode of Journeys of Discovery – Change Makers’ collaborative series with the Royal Philharmonic Orchesta. Over the course of these interviews, Michael explores fundamental questions about what it means to be human that accompany nine incredible concerts.

This week, the themes are Freedom and Redemption, and our guest Katy Emck OBE, knows a thing or two about both of those.

As Founding Director of Fine Cell Work, Katy speaks to Michael about how she is helping to transform the lives of prisoners and ex-prisoners through needlework. Prisons can be “places of soul, spirit and connection”, says Katy. Rather than carrying out their sentences “full of rage and self hate”, prisoners should be permitted to embark on a journey of “self understanding and self acceptance”.

Craftwork in prisons is common, but Katy feels there is something about the intense focus of needlework that provides a much needed “release from the here and now”. Whilst momentarily being transported out of their cell’s confinement, prisoners are also developing a skill, creating something they can be proud of, and generating income. This positions them with the self belief to rebuild meaningful, independent, crime free lives once they have finished their sentences.

There is no better depiction of Katy’s belief in the power of freedom and redemption than her favourite song by Nina Simone, ‘I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free’, which she describes as the ultimate song about freedom, release and the longing we all have to break free of inhibition and to be connected.

Through needlework, Fine Cell Work is opening one of the few doors of opportunity available to prisoners – allowing them both a glimpse of freedom, and a chance for redemption.

Katy Emck OBE, Founding Director, Fine Cell Work

With special thanks to our audio partners at RODE. Find out more and book tickets for the RPO’s Journeys of Discovery series at

Subscribe to Change Makers Podcast