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Beyond Prison Walls – Launching our new project with the Royal Astronomical Society

Jan 11 2018
By: Gail Stephens
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‘Don’t let people tell you this stuff is too sophisticated for prisoners. They always think things are too sophisticated for us. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing painting and decorating, but sometimes I want to be mentally challenged. Astronomy isn’t something I’ve ever thought about learning before but this is the stuff we should be learning about!, I’m definitely keen to be involved.’ Prisoner, HMP Brixton

To celebrate their bicentenary the Royal Astronomical Society established an Outreach and Engagement Fund to support astronomy and geophysics projects for diverse sections of the community. In May 2017 Bounce Back were announced a winner and we are now developing a project which aims to engage prisoners in astronomy and other STEM subjects. This gives us the opportunity to stimulate new ideas and approaches to prison education and demonstrates the diverse range of training and education initiatives that are on offer in prison to employers.  It also shows how such opportunities offer individuals the chance to learn a variety of transferable and valuable skills.

Although a slight departure from our everyday work in training prisoners in construction, it is an exciting and thought-provoking time for the us. The aim of the project is to stimulate interest in astronomy, whilst helping prisoners “See beyond the prison walls” and their current circumstances. Facilitating an environment that encourages prisoners to think about their place in the universe will help them re-evaluate their priorities and alter their mindset. Aspects of mindfulness will underpin the project activities, and participants will learn to think differently about life.

Since May 2017 the project has been in a research and development phase as we reach out to other organisations and explore potential partnerships that will maximize the reach of the project with new audiences. We have also been working closely with a number of fellows from the Royal Astronomical Society who are excited to offer their expertise to teach prisoners about the solar system.

It’s brilliant that Bounce Back recently got an RAS 200 award! The ideas are great and I can’t wait to be involved.’ RAS Fellow

The project was introduced to HMP Brixton, (chosen site for the pilot phase) at the end of last year. The responses from prisoners has been overwhelmingly positive and somewhat unexpectedly – many have prior knowledge of astronomy from documentaries featuring Professor Brian Cox and Tim Peake.

Beyond Prison Walls is an innovative project that will offer us the opportunity to break boundaries in prison education. With the hope of using Virtual Reality headsets to allow prisoners to explore the universe, the project will provide prisoners with new and exciting opportunities that will advance their astronomical knowledge and could also inspire curiosity and stimulate new interest in learning.

Watch this space for developments!

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2017 Awards

Nov 29 2017
By: Gail Stephens
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With a hint of Halloween our Annual Awards ceremony was held at the end of last month at Centrepoint’s Dean Street Cafe. Hosted by Tom Watt, guest enjoyed a humorous evening with delicious food presented by the trainees at the cafe.

This year the awards were donated and presented by our Employers and Partners who personally acknowledged the achievements of 14 individuals who had excelled with them. But the event was not just an intimate celebration for the award winners. It was also an opportunity to thank and celebrate our very valued employers and supporters – the very people that provide the essential ingredient for changing perception, spreading the word and helping others to see the talent pool that exists so that we can all help to reduce re-offending and change lives together.
Please take a look at the highlights of the evening in our video:
And well done to the worthy winners of the awards bellow:
Rash, who won the “Most Entrepreneurial Spirit” presented by Michael Smith of Brixton Bid.
Vincent received the “Outstanding Achievement Award” from Landsec
Dabs received the “Proud Father Award” having just become one from Jacquie of Boots
Kieron won the Out for Good Award for his determination to change his life
Rachel, one of our Crisis participants, won a special award.
Kieron was acknowledged for “Turning over a new leaf” with an Award from HMP Brixton and National Prison Radio
Keltbray presented Nathan with their award for “Breaking Down Barriers”
Scaffolders Alandale acknowledged Jermaine for “Working his way to the top”
J M Scully recognised Wojciech for his work on Boots sites
Gympsumtools presented Jerome with an award for his skills improvement
TFL awarded Jermaine the “Out for Good” award for his success with our new pilot programme supporting offenders into a wider variety of industries.
There were two recipients for the Novus award for “Sustained Employment” – Ali and Dawit and 3 recent starters: Perrie, Dennis and Steve were awarded “Best newcomers award” sponsored by Lucas
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Oct 02 2017
By: Gail Stephens
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Transforming the Environment: HMP High Down

Our funded pilot project, which was part of the Ministry of Justice’s Reform Prison programme, “Improving the prison environment”  in HMP High Down was completed in September 2017.

The project involved a number of inmates in the painting and decorating of various rooms including the homework room and listening room. The participants themselves were the designers of the redecoration in every respect and the process consisted of three intensive group planning sessions as well as personal in cell work. Participants chose the colours and concepts, putting forward ideas for special features such as the blackboard pillar in the Homework Club Room.  This involvement created a sense of shared ownership and accountability to the prison community as a whole.

The results were highly effective and all of the rooms were further enhanced by the talented artist, Federica Ciotti whose amazing murals brought each room to life.

In addition to improving the atmosphere of the “Listening Room” – a private space where prisoners can “off load” to a trained fellow inmate “Listener”, the Homework Club Room was also completely transformed.

The purpose of the Homework Club redesign was to create a welcoming environment which would reduce the trauma of coming into a prison environment for visiting children and increase the quality of time spent with their father. The goal was to create an environment which was visually stimulating and interactive: an “oasis” in the prison complex which would meet the needs of all users. Featuring an exquisitely drawn “Evolution Wall” and an amazing “Interactive map of the world” the result was quite overwhelming.

The feedback from all the families is so positive. They are really grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with their children in such a friendly environment” –  Prison staff working with Families and visitors

Federica and her “Evolution Wall”

 

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The “Fill the Gap” initiative

Sep 01 2017
By: Gail Stephens
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We are delighted to be in partnership with a number of organisations working on employer led training and pathways into construction for ex-offenders in a unique project entitled “Mind/Fill the Gap”. Specifically responding to the needs of employees in the construction industry the objective is to reduce the skills gaps of trained workers within the industry giving employees access to the talent pool that people leaving prison/the 11 million people with a criminal record represent.

Led by Lendlease Be Onsite and part funded by CITB, the programme delivers training and support into jobs via the collaboration of a consortium of a range of organisations who all work within the employment support sector and have a desire to focus on work with ex-offenders. We ourselves provide skills training both in and out of prison whilst the others in partnership including PJ Careys, Lee Marley Brickwork and Scaffolding, Mitie Foundation, NACRO and a Fairer Chance all give their specialist support towards the ultimate objective of sustainable employment.

The programme which began on 1st May 2017 focusses on London and the South in year 1 with other areas of the UK including Manchester, North West, Birmingham and West Midlands in years two and three.

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Our Out for Good Programme continues

Aug 15 2017
By: Gail Stephens
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Following the success of our first Out for Good project in HMP Brixton, funded by Sheriffs and Recorders, we are about to embark upon our second programme.  Having worked on the outcomes with the partner employers involved we are able to evaluate the learnings from the first project to adapt and develop the next one starting in October.

These 6 month programmes, run by Bounce Back and Prospects/NCS, give a variety of employers a chance to be involved with the recruitment of prisoners with the support of the dedicated Out for Good Team.  Working with both participants and employers throughout the period and for up to a year beyond, an Out for Good team manager ensures the process through preparation and into work is managed throughout.

To become involved prospective employers for the programme are invited into the prison to run a workshop and explain their company ethos, highlight positions available and give a realistic view of their expectations to the programme participants. The participants are individuals who are motivated to work and are between 4 and 6 months prior to release. Both sides are then supported with candidates being prepared for the job opportunities whilst allocated “champions” within the company liaise with the team.  As they near the end of their sentence the programme participants interview for the roles with the employers and many are offered full time employment.

Employers that engaged with the first programme included Tideway, Young’s Pubs, Keltbray, Alandale and Tfl and a total of 20 job offers were accepted.

 If you would like to find out more about our criteria and how to be involved with our Out for Good programme please contact us.  

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Our feature on the BBC

Dec 12 2016
By: Gail Stephens
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We were so pleased that Raphael Rowe was so inspired by our work that following his visit to open the scaffolding centre that he campaigned to run a feature on our training and employment on the BBC The One Show in early December.

The comprehensive piece started in HMP Brixton interviewing our trainer and a trainee before visiting one of our recently qualified and released cohorts now out working full time on site with Alandale.

It really told our story well and we hope raised awareness hugely of the importance of giving ex-offenders a chance.

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Our Scaffolding Centre officially opens in HMP Brixton

Oct 18 2016
By: Gail Stephens
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At an event attended by in excess of 100 people held at the Clink Restaurant our scaffolding centre was officially opened by Paul Elliott,  eminent football governing body ambassador and passionate supporter of youth engagement, and hosted by TV presenter and journalist Raphael Rowe.screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-12-37-14

The launch of our latest skills training centre is a very special for two reasons. It is the first ever in a UK prison and secondly it is a clear example of a response from the construction industry to an immediate need for scaffolding recruits.  Alandale, through its relationship with Land Securities came into the prison and set up the training facility for us so we could train up potential employees.

Debbie Akehurst Head of Economy and Communities at Land Securities said ‘ this is a great example of true partnership working – the new Scaffold Centre will meet industry skills gaps and tap into the potential of people in prisons, it’s a win win situation for everyone’ – people get a second chance, the industry gets skilled workers and our communities become safer by reducing reoffending rates’

What has also been hugely rewarding is the immediate response we have had from scaffolding companies around the UK who are keen to tap into the unique pool of trainees for a section of the industry that is crying out for workers.

‘We have been delighted by the opportunity that this gives our participants to get into employment on release’ says Fran Findlater CEO of Bounce Back.  ‘As we focus on training skills that respond to the need of the construction industry, in this case we have more than fulfilled our objectives – we could easily place 20 or more scaffolders into work and we’ve only been open a couple of months.  This is all about getting our participants ready for work on site.  It is not about high levels of extensive training, it is to see if individuals have the appetite to go up a scaffolding tower and get involved in the hard work the profession requires.  If participants do this, dry lining and painting and decorating in our 3 centres, we know they will have an aptitude on release.  Ultimately this has one end goal – stopping people coming back to prison because they have the skills, confidence and earning potential to manage on the outside.’

Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“Bounceback is an excellent example of how employers can provide invaluable work opportunities for offenders while in prison to help them turn their lives around.

“Schemes like these can help to break the cycle of re-offending, which means fewer victims and saves the taxpayer money.”

In addition we continue to ensure that the trainees have also gained their CSCS cards whilst still in the prison environment so they are ready to work as soon as they are released – something that is fundamental to preventing people re-offending when they leave prison.

The employers and companies we work with have been resolute in their support, as have NOMS, NOVUS and the prison.  The industry values the fact that not only does the organisation provide training, but they work with the individuals ‘through the gate’ as well as with employers on an ongoing basis to ensure both sides are working well together.  As Keltbray said when they started working in the sector ‘we genuinely couldn’t have done it without them’.  Equally, we couldn’t do it without the support of the construction companies, it is an ideal model to take forward.

 

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Containing ourselves

Nov 10 2015
By: Gail Stephens
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Our “hub” in the vibrant container village at PScreenshot 2015-11-09 18.16.29OP Brixton is taking shape. This will provide us with a functional, much needed accessible outreach space for people to drop into and use computers, access information, meet colleagues and get jobs.

We are raising funds to get it up and running and hope to be there soon.

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WME/IMG Volunteering day

Oct 20 2015
By: Gail Stephens
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We were thrilled to once again welcome 8 enthusiastic employees from William Morris Entertainment/IMG for their global, annual “Walk the Walk” volunteering day. This year their day was spent at the vibrant POP Brixton where we are soon to take the container which will be our hub in the community.  Screenshot 2015-10-19 14.52.11

The day was all about helping organisations already resident at POP and was therefore very diverse. Starting with garden landscaping with Uncommon, followed by an introduction to the Brixton Pound they then pulled on the dungarees to paint a container.  A quick break then time for a Q and A session with some young budding talent at Reprezent Radio.

Screenshot 2015-10-19 14.53.53

The feedback on the day was really positive and we are flattered to be so sought after as an organisation for these day.

Screenshot 2015-10-19 14.54.24

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Team Strategy

Sep 24 2015
By: Gail Stephens
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Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 10.24.00With so many exciting things going on we took stock at an away day. Facilitated by David Hall-Matthews we evaluated where we were and looked at the future.  With support from Walgreens Boots Alliance the day was held in Kings Place and quite miraculously the entire team attended.

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  • “Bounce Back is, above all, about its people. What is known is that a job and income on release is fundamental to success in coping with day to day life and preventing re-offending. Our drive to change perception in employers and clients is reaping rewards and our professional team is working around London and the Home Counties.

    The mutual trust and respect at the core of our values reflects the growing belief in giving social enterprises and socially disadvantaged people an opportunity to succeed and thrive. We are just one stage in this development, the determination of our participants to start a new life and move on is a formidable ingredient in the recipe for success."

    Francesca Findlater, Founder/Chairman

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