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Insight: Sally Eley, foundation director at the City & Guilds Foundation

We were delighted to welcome long-time friend of Offploy, Sally Eley (foundation director at City & Guilds) to our webinar last month – as she guided us through the importance of skills development and mentoring when it comes to ex-offender employment.

Over the past five years, the City & Guilds Foundation has been looking at how equipping prisoners with the practical skills they need to re-enter society and providing support both before and after release, we can significantly reduce reoffending.

While there can be limited opportunities for people to learn new skills during their time in prison – something that has been all the more apparent through the pandemic - there are some inspiring examples where it has been done well and leading prison leavers directly into jobs that society needs.

One fantastic example is The Clink

a hospitality-based charity working in

prisons across the country.

The organisation provides various City & Guilds qualifications to prisoners, around food hygiene, food preparation and safety – as well as operating four restaurants across the country, and an outside catering service. Findings have also shown that prisoners are 65% less likely to reoffend than those who haven’t been through the programme.

There’s a lot to be said for training people in the final 16-18 months of their sentence, and getting them work-ready upon release – and the City & Guilds Foundation has been working with HMP Hatfield to do just that.A pilot saw six people released on temporary licence to undertake ‘on the job’ training in the rail sector, with potential employers coming to meet them outside of the prison itself. Of the four that have been released, three are now in full-time jobs – testament to the success of the programme.

Currently, the UK faces a significant ‘skills gap’ and, while we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, it’s important to learn from the success of others – particularly given the hard work people in prison are willing to give, to secure a crime-free future.


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