Ok, I get you’re fed up of the 2018 recap posts so I will keep our gloating for the previous year to a minimum.
The reason I am eager to share this post is because of how excited the Team and I are for our 2019 expansion into more communities, we have decided to share it here first on our brand new, shiny website.
Top three moments of 2018
I have condensed 2018 into three key moments for this post, for those interested in finding out more about each moment, we will be sure to get some follow up blogs in the coming weeks.
3rd place – Jacob addressed the nation on the main stage at the conservative party conference
Where the heck did that come from?
When I was asked to share a bit about our journey, and how we should start seeing prison as system to rehabilitate, not just punish, I thought it may have been at a fringe event, not introducing the Justice Secretary, David Gauke to the main conference.
I was terribly nervous but I had my notes and the belief in my words and belief in the good work Offploy is doing. This was a huge moment not only for our organisation but for the movement for society to support more people with criminal convictions to contribute by securing employment.
Here’s the speech in technicolour for your viewing pleasure.
2nd place – we grew from a team of 4 to 14
When I started writing the Offploy business plan, I was three months into a sentence in HMP Wealstun in Leeds. No one could see the future and tell me that this idea would employ such a team of great people. In fact, we have surpassed the number of colleagues I expected to employ – I feel like we’re now the TV series that has overtaken the original books and the author is playing catch up.
Our growth is due to two commissioners who have really believed in us and backed us to grow in such a way that we have cemented our foundations in the cities of Hull and Bristol.
Hull City Council and the European Union have supported Offploy via their European Structural Investment Fund to help 100 people per year into employment. This has helped us grow to a team of six colleagues in Hull to deliver this much-needed service.
In the South West, Weston College have also supported our growth to hire two more colleagues to support over 40 candidates into employment in the last year.
A big thank you to our team members and the commissioners who have believed in us to make this social dream a reality.
1st Place – Supporting Jamie into employment
Attempting to change policy, working with commissioners and hiring exceptional team members is an amazing feeling – but why do we do this? Why bother?
We do this because employment reduces reoffending and that makes society safer. We do it for people like Jamie.
The 1st place doesn’t just go to the specific placement of Jamie into employment but also what Jamie represents.
Jamie had been released from HMP Channings Wood, where he had completed a number of Weston College courses, in June 2018. He was confident of his work readiness, but it was apparent that he still faced significant barriers to employment. Upon release, Jamie was considered to be a high risk, violent offender - He had struggled with substance misuse issues for years and had a combination of mental health issues. Jamie was struggling to find housing and quickly found himself homeless, it was during this time he was introduced to Julian House, a southwest charity dedicated to helping homeless ex-offenders.
Both Offploy and Julian House supported Jamie to work through a number of issues and by November 2018 Jamie was ready to undertake work. We found suitable employment for him at a waste management company based in Bridgwater. He has worked exceptionally well and has already been identified by his employer and promised a full time contract, plus the opportunity to train to operate plant machinery, which will dramatically improve his wage expectation and his ongoing employability journey.
Thanks to our service lead, James, and our partners in the South West, Weston College, for making Jamie’s journey into employment. Together you have made a difference to someone’s life, who instead of reluctantly being on benefits, he was earning a good living over Christmas and providing for his family.
We have over 100 stories like Jamie’s supported by our team members and our partners. Personally, I cannot wait to support even more people like Jamie find work and turn away from crime in 2019.
The vision for 2019
“Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.” —Jim Rohn
Keeping to the threes, we have three clear goals for 2019.
Meet our original target of getting 250 people with criminal convictions into meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment by July 2019.
With well over 100 people into employment now, the pressure is on to ensure we constantly support candidates into meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment that is right for them and the employer.
In order to achieve this target, we will need to support our Social Employment Advisors (Peer Mentors) to support larger caseloads. We will do this by centralizing some of our admin functions and implementing time-saving technology when creating case notes on our candidates. (exciting!)
We will also need to expand to new areas, which brings us onto our second goal for 2019.
Expand Offploy to five cities across the United Kingdom
Offploy currently runs our Yorkshire and Humber services from Hull and our South West Service from Bristol.
We’re keen to hire more colleagues and support more candidates in employment by expanding the number of ‘hub cities’ which can serve smaller local communities.
2019 will be about growing Offploy from Hull and Bristol to three more cities across the country – keep an eye out for posts on these as we begin to expand.
Officially launch Offploy Education 2019
Candidate care and support is at the heart of everything we do. We currently support people with criminal convictions through a nine-step journey to employment.
Two of those steps are ‘ex-offender specific employability’ and ‘employer-specific training’.