In our opening blog, CEO, Duncan O’Leary, reflects on highlights from 2022.
A momentous year
This year has been momentous for all of us at New Futures Network. Our mission is to support prison leavers into employment and the latest published figures show great progress: between April 2021 and March 2022, the proportion of prison leavers who were employed at six weeks from their release rose by over half, while those who were employed at six months from their release rose by almost two thirds.
We can’t do this without the partnerships we have with employers. We are developing how we work with our well-established and valued partners and building relationships with some fantastic new organisations.
“We can’t do this without the partnerships we have with employers.”Duncan O’Leary, CEO, New Futures Network
We have also been transforming the way we work in HMPPS so that we’re ready to make the most of every opportunity. To do this, we are launching a range of new initiatives in ninety-two prisons:
- Employment Hubs: The dedicated space in each prison, where prisoners can go to access support – whether that is careers advice, CV work, support with a job search, or making applications for employment post-release.
- Prison Employment Leads: A new dedicated staff member who is a single point of contact for employers.
- ID and Banking Administrators: A new role responsible for making sure prisoners have the documentation needed to take up employment on release.
- Employment Advisory Boards: The brainchild of James Timpson – one Board in each prison chaired by a business leader. Members advise, support and challenge prisons on their employment offer.
Success in collaboration
It is the coming together of dedicated team members focussed on employment, new programmes that break down barriers to work, and refreshed ways of working with our partners that has led to our success.
“Every individual success story has a much broader, positive impact”Duncan O’Leary, CEO, New Futures Network
One recent example demonstrates just this: In October, we ran the nationwide Unlocking Hospitality campaign which saw twenty businesses run events in fifty prisons over two weeks. One of those events was hosted at HMP Low Newton and attended by the fantastic team at Greene King. One of the attendees at the event had been unemployed for more than a year before going to prison. At HMP Low Newton she met not just a willing employer, but also a Prison Employment Lead who undertook a crucial job readiness assessment. This prompted a referral to the ID and Banking Administrator, who supported her to open a bank account and secure her housing through the Bail Accommodation and Support Service. The candidate completed a successful work trial and interview with Greene King which resulted in the individual securing employment on their release.
The ripple effect
This ripple effect is what it is all about. Every individual success story has a much broader, positive impact:
- Prisoners are motivated to visit Employment Hubs and talk to Prison Employment Leads about their career prospects when they see their peers securing jobs.
- Our business partners satisfy their recruitment needs and fulfil their corporate social responsibility and inclusive hiring commitments.
- This leads other businesses to consider recruiting differently by employing people with convictions.
- Communities are safer because this reduces reoffending.
“We are always learning about how to do more and do better, but I’m proud of the work that we – my team, prison staff and our employer partners – are doing.”Duncan O’Leary, CEO, New Futures Network
We are always learning about how to do more and do better, but I’m proud of the work that we – my team, prison staff and our employer partners – are doing.
You will be able to read more about these new initiatives, success stories and news from our partners on this new section for blogs on our website.
By Duncan O’Leary, CEO, New Futures Network