A guest blog from Carol Haigh, Offploy's Project Manager for Lincoln.
Last week the gentlemen on Offploy's pilot scheme of training and engagement inside HMP Lincoln graduated from the seven-week long course. This collaboration between HMP Lincoln, Offploy and Bishop Burton College enabled us to combine practical, functional and academic skills along with work experience into one course which we delivered inside the prison.
I'm proud to say that all of the men received the news on Friday(15/03/19) that they had successfully completed the course. For those of us that were there it was great to see the look on their faces when they realised what they had achieved.
Offploy's promise to these gentlemen is that all those who completed the course will be welcomed onto Offploy's service upon release. They will be allocated a Social Employment Advisor who will act as a peer mentor and guide them through our 9-step candidate journey and into meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment. Much kudos to the prison’s ‘Reducing Reoffending Team’ for being innovative and embracing new products and strategies in their quest to compliment and enhance their in-house service - the gentlemen there are lucky to have such a supportive team working to have their best interests and futures at heart.
The past seven weeks seem to have flown by.
The first week got off to a great start, the men met the team and they engaged well with the employability skills workshops. Tutor Becky and Social Employment Advisor Derek delivered a varied and interactive programme and all the participants took part in a range of activities, challenging themselves and each other well all week - not to mention the staff on occasion! From confidence building and team activities to mindfulness, mindsets, goal setting and budgeting it was a full and productive week. The men had the opportunity to use the IT facilities at the prison to create their own personal CV’s and the team covered the often confusing issues around the how, why, where, when and who of disclosure, working through templates of disclosure letters and learning how to work out when convictions are spent.
Following on, weeks 2, 3 and 4 gave the men an opportunity to learn new skills specific to the Food Manufacturing industry through working with our partner tutor, Jayne, from Bishop Burton College. The programme has been no easy ride, but the group have risen to the occasion, all taking and passing their Level 2 qualification in the first week.
Two of the men in the group did so well in this subject that they have taken their Level 3 exam, lets keep our fingers crossed for the results! In week 3 the men got the chance to learn some useful, practical skills as they took part in the first aid course and learned some practical kitchen-based skills. Finally, week 4 saw the men in the classroom again to study safe manual handling and health and safety in the workplace modules which will add to their skills, knowledge and qualifications. A fantastic addition to their personal portfolios.
Week 5 offered an opportunity for the men to gain some valuable work experience. One has taken up a job in the eatery providing food to the visitors and staff in the prison and although we have seen some challenges in the logistics of this element of the project the other men have had the opportunity to spend some of the week working in the prison kitchen which has added an incredibly valuable ingredient to the course!
The penultimate week was dedicated to work experience in the prison kitchen and our Social Employment Advisor Derek went back in to the prison for a session to catch up with the men and set the foundations for when Offploy delivered the final week on the course. Last week was the final week with a graduation for the gentlemen and we're all so amazed by the results and hard work put in by all to make this possible.