“The support they gave me in writing a CV and disclosure letter made me feel more like I was going somewhere. I’m trying to change my life around and that means you’ve got to be on it and take things step by step. That’s why it was so good to have friendly and enthusiastic people around you.” Out for Good participant
Following our successful pilot the second phase of our innovative, case management focused project that supports ex-offenders into employment is underway in HMP Brixton. Funded by Sheriffs and Recorders and set up in memory of the late Treasurer of the Prison Reform Trust, Andrew Fleming-Williams, Out for Good brings together prisoners and employers within the prison environment, helping to prepare prisoners for jobs upon release.
The project targets prisoners who are six months prior to release and are motivated and able to find work. With tailored case management support from Bounce Back, and mentoring support from The Reasons Why Foundation, the men are able to realise their own potential and work towards achieving sustainable employment in an industry of their choice. By forming close and professional relationships with Case Managers, prisoners are guided to help them pursue work that they are most suited to and are most likely to succeed in.
“I really like that they give us lots of different options and that the project allowed us to think outside the box, rather than forcing me into something you don’t want to do.” Out for Good participant
The unparalleled input from the employers who have not only come into the prison a number of times to meet prospective employees but have also offered a number of jobs and interviews to a number of participants make the project unique. This project is effective in that it provides real opportunities for ex-offenders and guides them through the process of recruitment. Working so closely with employers is vital, as businesses are able to visit the prison and see how many dedicated, experienced and enthusiastic individuals can be found there. This is often a profound experience for employers and encourages them to think more seriously about expanding and improving their recruitment processes to ensure that ex-offenders have a fair chance.
“Employers get to build a relationship with the guys during their visits to the prison so on release they already know them on a personal level as well as professional. This eases participants’ apprehension when attending interviews as they already have that rapport.” Maisie- Bounce Back Case Manager
Initially, businesses come to the prison to talk about the work they have on offer and the vacancies available. When prisoners then register their interest in a given organisation, a one-to-one chat is arranged between the employer and prospective employee. Case managers are involved throughout to ensure all parties are on the same page and recognise what they stand to gain from the project. If employers get on well with a given participant, they often invite them for an interview or even straight to on-boarding upon release. This means that prisoners can have a job lined up and be completely work ready before they are released from the prison. Release from prison is daunting but when an individual can feel safe in knowledge that they have work lined up, this process is likely to be much easier.
“As a Case Manager, seeing the guys reaction when employers offer them further interviews and secure employment on release is what makes it worthwhile. They put their trust in me which gives me the motivation to do the best I can for them!”
Recently, a participant who secured work during the pilot scheme attended a session in HMP Brixton. Brian met with a potential employer whilst serving time in Brixton and was subsequently offered a job upon release. Upon returning to Brixton, he spoke to the current participants about why Out for Good is so effective at helping people find real and sustainable jobs, and why the support offered by Bounce Back is so invaluable in easing any issues that are encountered.
“Brian is living proof that Out for Good does actually work. It proves that there are real jobs at the end of it and what Bounce Back does is working.” Current participant- HMP Brixton
Many participants are already reaping the benefits of the Out for Good model. Out of the participants who have already been released, several are already in work and a number have jobs in the pipeline, with on-boarding and induction sessions being arranged. For those still in prison meetings with employers are on-going.
“My number one priority was to find a job and it makes such a huge difference to have that security before being released. Out for Good is a really good project for anyone who is ready for a second chance.” Out for Good participant
While there a number of projects that run in prisons with employability in mind, Out for Good is unique in that it brings together employers and prisoners before prisoners are released. In forming these relationships early on, all parties are able to work together to ensure that the process is kept as simple as possible and ex-offenders are supported into the work environment in the best possible way. Not only does this increase the chances of successful employment, but it helps to challenge many common misconceptions about the process of employing an ex-offender, highlighting how with the right support, ex-offenders can be welcomed into the workforce for the benefit of everyone.