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A Day in the Life of a Prison Employment Lead

Chloe, Prison Employment Lead, offers an account of what she does to deliver on her prison’s employment goals.

Our dedicated Prison Employment Leads (PELs) are the key point of contact for serving prisoners who want to take up work opportunities, and people nearing release who are looking to find a job. Prisoners can visit the site’s Employment Hub where the PEL and a range of other staff can support to prepare people for work and apply for jobs.

We caught up with Chloe, the Prison Employment Lead at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. Chloe told us about her role in delivering the prison’s unique, local employment strategy, that aims to empower prison leavers to use work as an anchor to a brighter future.

How would you describe your role as a Prison Employment Lead?

As a PEL, I help prison leavers prepare for work on release – this requires me to understand what work they want to do and referring them to suitable courses in custody, such as employability programmes or accredited courses, as well as matching them to suitable vacancies. This support will increase opportunities for them to gain meaningful employment on release.

What does a typical day look like for you?

No two days are the same here at Wormwood Scrubs. However, I have regular responsibilities which I carry out on a daily basis such as:

  • Identifying people who are within 12-weeks of their release to do work readiness assessments and understand what sort of support they might need.
  • Meeting prisoners who have been referred from other agencies within the prison who they have identified as requiring employment support.
  • Helping with applications and referrals to prepare people for work, including working alongside the ID and Banking Administrator to apply for right to work documentation such as birth certificates, bank accounts and driving licenses.
  • Collecting job applications, sending the applications off to employers and arranging in person interviews or Microsoft Teams calls.
  • Arranging employer visits in the Employment Hub so men are able to meet the employers in person to hear all about their opportunities which are available to them upon their release.
  • Engaging with third sector agencies and employers to discuss suitable job opportunities for the men coming up to release.

Fran, from charity No Going Back, said:

Working alongside the PELs has hugely helped our ability to reach prisoners who are ready to work and support them into jobs. Not only do they help us overcome hurdles like bank accounts and ID, they facilitate employment events we run with employers and volunteers, and make any events we hold run more seamlessly.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I received the following feedback from a prison leaver who was able to get a full-time job with Veolia as an HGV Driver through the referrals I made:

I am writing this to thank Chloe for the support she has given me.She put me in contact with a good organisation called No Going Back and looked out herself for driving jobs which I was interested in. I am now due to start work in the coming days.She has been a positive influence on my life since leaving prison and I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for me, especially whilst I was in prison. Without her help I don’t think things would have moved as smoothly as they have. Thank you.

How do you collaborate with employers and businesses outside of prison to create opportunities for released prisoners?

Regularly, I will meet with Ed, who is the Chair for our Employment Advisory Board at Wormwood Scrubs. Ed is great at sharing links and finding employers in the community who are willing to provide opportunities for men on release. We also hold regular meetings with our Employment Advisory Board, which includes members from local businesses who are also passionate in offering jobs to men on release.

It was great to hear Ed say:

Chloe is a joy to work with, whether on the wings with the men, or out meeting employers, and everything in between. She cares a great deal about helping people, is really practical and action oriented, and always does it with a smile.

Another way I collaborate with employers is by speaking with other PELs, especially in London, to share any new employers or businesses we have been in contact with and are keen to work with us. I also attend local job fairs to see if there are any new collaborations I can make.

I always look into any opportunities – you never know where you might find employment for prison leavers, it could be in a coffee shop or on the railway.

To find out more about Prison Employment Leads and Employment Hubs, visit our Employment Hubs page.

By Chloe, Prison Employment Lead, HMP Wormwood Scrubs