Seeing is Believing visit gives inside view on re-offending
December 04, 2012
Debbie White, chief executive of Sodexo UK and Ireland, recently led a group of top business leaders into HMP Forest Bank for a Business in the Community ‘Seeing is Believing’ visit on reducing re-offending through employment.
Senior business leaders including Philip Jansen, Group CEO Brakes, and Stephen Lehane, HR Director, Boots Alliance, were taken into HMP Forest Bank in Manchester, a category B prison run by Sodexo Justice Services which houses young and adult male offenders.
Delegates saw prison workshops where offenders receive training and learn skills to help them gain employment on release. They spoke to ex-offenders now in work and heard from Dennis Phillips, Foundation Manager of Timpson Ltd, and William Lees-Jones, Managing Director of JW Lees, on the business case for employing ex-offenders.
Ex-offenders can find it very challenging to obtain work on release owing to their criminal conviction, yet employment is one of the key factors in reducing re-offending, by between 33-50%. This is against a background in which re-offending is both likely - 60% of short-term prisoners re-offend within a year of release - and expensive, costing the UK around £11 billion each year.
Debbie White said: “Business intervention to support ex-offenders into work is a highly effective way of tackling reoffending rates. The visit certainly provided senior business leaders with food for thought, and I hope that it will help encourage a new way of thinking when it comes to recruiting ex-offenders.”
The group also visited Mustard Tree, a charity which supports homeless and marginalised people, many of whom have criminal convictions. Mustard Tree is a delivery partner for Business in the Community’s ‘Ready for Work’ programme, designed to support homeless people into employment.