Sodexo prisons help unlock construction opportunities

Published on : 3/6/23
  • Employment on release is recognised as a key element in helping to reduce the risk of re-offending, supporting ex-offenders in achieving a more positive future. Creating links between prisons and potential employers provides the vital connection to help make that a reality – and Sodexo’s prisons have been actively getting involved.

    ‘Unlocking Construction’ is an initiative developed by the New Futures Network – part of HM Prisons and Probation Service – which aims to open up career opportunities for individuals who are approaching their release date. The scheme creates a connection between companies looking to fill skills gaps and prisoners who are seeking a new and positive change, something that will help them to settle back into the community and reduce their risk of re-offending.

    Prisoners at both HMP Forest Bank and HMP Peterborough recently had the chance to discuss real-life career opportunities with companies who operate in their release areas. There were many positive conversations and more than a few people who were pleasantly surprised to find out that there really is life after prison, that there are people out there who are willing to offer ex-offenders the opportunity to turn their lives around.

    One man at HMP Forest Bank said:

    “This is a great opportunity because going forward I don’t just want a job; I want a career.”

    Before she attended the construction event in the female prison at HMP Peterborough, Charlie was nervous about what the future would hold for her. After meeting with some of the employers she said that she was buzzing with excitement!

    Charlie said:

    “I was scared about leaving prison before today; now I’m really excited, knowing that there’s support. It’s not so scary after all!”

    Training programmes and workshops in the prisons can be tailored to the needs of local employers. With courses that match those delivered in the community, such as the CSCS card, prisoners can be job-ready at the point of release.

    More than 40 men attended the event at HMP Forest Bank, plus 53 men and 54 women who took part at HMP Peterborough, showing that there is a keen interest amongst those preparing to leave prison to engage with potential employers.

    Feedback from the construction industry representatives was very positive and a lot of contacts were made for potential interviews across a range of roles.

    Harriet Saunders, Head of Talent at Network Plus said: “Forest Bank is a pool of untapped resource for skilled utilities workers. In a competitive employment market, with a shortage of supply, Forest Bank has a plethora of skilled individuals. As well as offering a solution to our staffing requirements, it’s important we recognise our corporate social responsibility to offer opportunities to those who are looking to get their life back on track.”

    After attending the event at HMP Peterborough, Matthew Green from HW Martin (Traffic) Ltd said: “Everyone has an idea of what prisoners are going to be like, you expect what you see on the television, and it couldn’t be farther from the truth in reality. It’s clear to see that some individuals have lost their way in life, not necessarily that they are a bad person. There’s a somewhat understandable stigma surrounding prisoners and it’s easy to see why from the outside, but once you get to speak to the prisoners, I think most companies would change their views and would be willing to give someone a second chance.”

    Whether you want to visit a prison to see the skills training in action, organise an employer day to recruit a number of people - you can find out more about Starting Fresh here.