We are currently working hard to build a specialist site dedicated to our women’s work.
Although Women represent less than 5% of the prison population, 100% of our job outcomes while in custody (ROTL) over the past 2 years have been for women.
Only around 9% of women in the UK have an unspent conviction yet over 50% of our successful clients are women.
Until our site is up and running you can what we have been doing to support women offenders in a number of blog posts written by our CEO, Maggie Walsh MBE
Last time I wrote I hinted at some exciting news for A Fairer Chance and our work with women. I am delighted to say we have partnered with Beating Time, through their Inside Job initiative, and will be able to continue our work with women in prison, primarily at East Sutton Park, for at least another year.
Through a second partnership with Careers-Academy, we can now also help London women, impacted by their contact with the CJS but who are no longer under supervision
Working with Senior Officer John Hasemore has enabled us to access brilliant, hardworking, resilient women as they strive to obtain employment on licence and through the gates.
Since October, and in these times of Covid, we have still been able to help eleven women interview and secure job offers in retail. We have just heard that another fabulous young woman we have supported has secured an Executive officer job, in my old Department, DWP, through the “Going straight to Work” NFN initiative. Best of all I have a woman working with me now.
Does she know what she’s let herself in for?
In total we directly helped at least 51 women with convictions gain work in the last year. Does this make us the top performer in this field?
We caught up with some of our stars from previous years
• Chris the TFL reporting Manager now four years into her career in project management… and climbing to the top
• Naomi our TFL Contract Manager just a year behind
• Annie, our amazing plant technician who has been employed for more than two years now “I am getting great feedback from her manager, colleagues and most importantly customers. Annie is turning out to be one of my best technicians” Ambius.
• Rowena four years as a reporting officer and payroll manager for a multinational construction company
• Dee, Senior account manager within FM. Employed for two and a half years now
• Cassie now a store manager, who started work six years ago, on a 12 hour ROTL contract, with our favourite retailer.
Any employers who would like to find out more about our work, or talk to any of our real women or existing employers, please feel free to contact me.
In response to the number of people in the prison system most of our work is with men and we do very well there too. But sadly jobs for women are low down the agenda. You can read volumes of information, strategies and research papers concerning women in the criminal justice system, with hardly a mention of employment. I still find it hard to access the various CJS women’s forums.
So today we launch our own initiative that we will simply call Women’s Work .
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more.
Women’s work Pt2
This is my second post dedicated to Women’s Work. I think we might need to rebrand as a Talent Acquisition business when I look at the skills, abilities and determination that the women we are able to support have to offer… and what they achieve.
Spring Star stories:
• Former NHS worker we had previously helped secure a driving job was determined to get back into a caring role. After a long process, a little bit of AFC intervention to gently refer the recruitment team to their own NHS Trust’s policy on recruiting people with convictions, she passed all the background checks and has started work as a vaccinator
• We met up with a wonderful young woman who years ago we helped onto the very last Jamie Oliver FiFTEEN scheme. She had previously worked at top London Restaurants but found lock down really hard. We worked with her over the last few months helping her regain her confidence and to renew all her food hygiene and related tickets, paying from our (non existing) hardship fund. Our Ops Director, Rozie, arranged a trial shift with one of the best known awarding winning “artisan” bakeries. They loved her and she’s started work, as a chef, on a wage that reflects her skills, last month
Around the Country
We continue to get contacts from all over the country. I got invited to Clinks Women’s Forum in March that was interesting and informative. The best part was meeting a woman, in the break out bit, from the BOSS project in Cardiff. They are also really keen on helping women help themselves through employment. I was immediately able to put BOSS in touch with NFN who have vacancies in Wales, in the Civil Service and also in the built environment. The logistics of setting up a through the gates service, when Welsh women are sent to English prisons, is not without its challenges. I am also going to try and assist them in establishing links with my retailers.
Then, randomly I met a great young woman on a telephone call. I was doing some employability interviews and had the chance to chat to a young lady who had been released from HMP Peterborough. Well educated, good work history, non-violent crime. She had even contacted the prison for help but was told nobody could help her with employment. I just thought this woman is too good to lose. To cut a long story short I was able to refer her to an ideal job. This is her letter to me
Although I used my time in prison as wisely as I could, by volunteering for various charities and working in the education department as a teaching assistant, I came home feeling very ashamed and with little or no confidence about finding work again.
Despite learning a very hard lesson from my previous mistake, it has led me to a better outlook on life and an appreciation of honesty. That being said in the 18 months that I have been home again I have struggled greatly to find and hold down a job. Maggie at A Fairer Chance has been phenomenal in helping me build up my confidence and to realise that although I made a grave error it doesn’t define who I am.
Maggie put me in touch with User Voice and thanks to her introduction I have been able to secure not only a new job, but a wonderful career opportunity. Thanks to Maggie this is the first time in a long time that I can genuinely say I feel hopeful for the future.
We have had another success with Civil Service with one of our women securing a digital marketing job through the gates.
We have also seen a huge rise in demand for women to work in rail, utilities and construction. Jobs range from muddy boots through admin to planning. I am talking with the fabulous Fran from Bounceback around the possibility of delivering some pre employment CSCS training in custody.
We have just been back in to HMP ESP with Beating Time, who support our work in custody, for the first time this year and I will write more about that next time.
We are only limited by funding. If any organisations out there would like to discuss funding with us, or there are any employers out there who would like to find out more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in custody
On Friday 25th June we held our first proper prison event since Jan 2020. Together with Beating Time and supported by Bounceback, we hosted a range of employers and before the end of the day we already had ELEVEN yes ELEVEN firm job offers for proper paid jobs on ROTL. Jobs that can be kept “through the gate” We have a lot of follow up to undertake for women identified by other employers as being right for their companies.
The main theme for the day was the built environment and rail. With the funding in place to deliver CSCS in the establishment the real work will start next week
I never cease to be amazed by the support from our employers so here’s to Elite Rail who have pledged hard cash to help women achieve a drivers license (Many rail work locations are in the middle of nowhere and much is carried out at night}.
The other employers, see below, are also pledged ongoing support by forming an informal network to build a proper relationship with the prison and the women. This would include offering one day workshops including Tool Box Talks, Asbestos and Legionella awareness and other short courses that will add to our women’s employability.
I also want to give a big shout out to the three women who were there with their employers and had all spent time as residents.
We can only do this work because of the flexibility and commitment of the prison team. Senior Officers John Hasemore and, Rena Berry and Community Manager, Toni Duchesne who, responding to the delay of the planned relaxation of Covid rules, housed our event across three separate locations to ensure we kept to all social distancing and other rules.
I was mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day but not too tired to visit the Farm Shop and buy up Mr Ps special ribs and a selection of meats and sausages produced on the prison farm and butchery. #EastSuttonFarmShop
So big thanks from A Fairer Chance and Beating Time to everyone who supported this event
McGinleys, Elite Rail, VGC, Kier, Bilbys, PSR, Bounceback, BeOnsite, New Futures Network, Sainsburys, Coop, Forward Trust