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If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

- Albert Einstein

A guest blog from Jacob Hill, Managing Director.

From our three years of being in existence, we have grown to realise that we don’t know a right lot.

Yes, we can tell you about our 150+ candidates we are supporting and that 42% have previous experience in construction, 77% were unemployed at the time of their arrest and the average age of our candidates is 30.9 years old.

What we cannot yet tell you is what actually works when it comes to mentoring candidates, engaging employers to create sustainable opportunities and if we actually reduce reoffending and make society safer.

This is something which keeps Tim (right), our Social Policy and Research Officer, up at night and we wanted to do something about it.

First of all, we are now gathering data on cohorts of candidates we are supporting. We will then submit this to the Ministry of Justice’s ‘Justice Data Labs’ who will be able to tell us if we are having a statistically significant impact on reducing reoffending. A reduction in reoffending would mean our intervention with candidates had enough of an impact that, as a cohort, less have offended compared to a sample/control group. A significant reduction in reoffending would mean that this is a finding we are at least 95% sure is reliable and replicable.

This side of our research we refer to as ‘impact measurement’ and, as well as reoffending, we will also measure changes in confidence, mental wellbeing and interview skills. In the interests of being transparent, we will be publishing our entire social impact methodology and our social impact to be scrutinised and improved by stakeholders. How can we get better if we only release data when we’re doing well? This will be warts and all.

The second side of our research strategy is to explore and then define what actually works for us.

We are doing this by partnering with universities who have interests in areas relevant to our work, such as meaningful mentoring or employer attitudes towards ex-offenders and opening our doors and data sets to their researchers.

All of our candidates we support consent to have their data anonymised and used for research purposes which makes us prime partners for universities looking to work with a live cohort of people with convictions or employers exploring this area further.

One university partner we are exploring a research project with is Washington State University where Professor Jerry Goodstein(left) is keen to understand the relationships between employers and how they recruit people from within custody. This will include the perceptions of employers and the challenges of recruiting straight out of prison.

Thankfully, we’re running a project with HMP Lincoln that does exactly this and our relationship with employers is second to none.

Now, geography is not my strong suit, but Washington State seems a bit of a distance from Yorkshire, so we have agreed to meet halfway, in Portugal, where Prof Goodstein is currently on secondment at Católica Lisbon. (Note: 1000 miles for Offploy, 5000 miles for Professor Goodstein – as I say, not my strong suit.)

The four-day trip will see the three of us (myself, Tim and Prof Goodstein) review our relationship with employers, understand what more we could be measuring and how we might use the data to influence the way prisons engage with employers in the U.K. and the States. You can find out more about Jerry's work in his own words here.

You can also follow our trip on social media -

Here’s my twitter: @JacobROHill

Here’s Tim’s: @TimRoebuck5

Here’s Offploy’s: @Offploy


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