Advertisement - Content continues below
Employment

Charities call for multifaceted approach to help ex-offenders into work

Following Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s call for more action on helping ex-offenders into employment, UK rehabilitation charities have emphasised the need for support in multiple areas to prevent re-offending.

Charities have praised the government’s renewed ambition to help ex-offenders into employment but stressed the need for a multifaceted approach to tackling re-offending. 

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab called for a renewed focus on supporting people into work when they leave prison in a meeting with business leaders on Thursday, highlighting  three areas: making sure jobs are well advertised in prisons, that ex-offenders are fully equipped to work, and an aim for every resettlement prison to have a board of local employers to better connect the institutions with local businesses. 

While welcomed as a positive step by charities, several told The Big Issue a joined-up approach including housing, additional support and a reduction in the length of time ex-offenders are obliged to disclose previous convictions would go a long way to improving employment rates and reducing re-offending.

Raab acknowledged that ex-offenders face numerous obstacles upon leaving prison and suggested that work was on-going across government regarding other elements of support.

Angela Cairns, chief executive of rehabilitation charity Unlock, said the proposals “do not go far enough, the things that have been announced aren’t necessarily radical or new, and they are things that should be in place anyway.

“We are positive about employers being encouraged to employ people with criminal records [but] people need secure housing, they need employment, they need support around them to get on with their life.

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

“This initiative builds on a lot of things which were going on previous to Dominic Raab coming into post. We want to see people in those roles and doing those jobs and attitudes beginning to change. The proof is always in the results.”

New research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice showed 90 per cent of businesses which currently employ ex-offenders gave positive feedback on doing so, citing reliability and trustworthiness as character traits. However, just 14 per cent of offenders get a job in the first six months of leaving prison, Raab said.

The UK is currently facing a labour shortage as the most recent labour market statistics showed there are more than a million job vacancies across the country and a record low number of people available to fill them. Lower migration due to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic are among the root causes, leading to food and fuel shortages across the country due to a lack of drivers.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

Francesca Findlater, founder of ex-offender training and employment charity Bounce Back said: “The principle is great, I can think of nothing I want more than for people’s perception to change and for them to think about people leaving prison differently.

“However, you can’t just go into prison and get a bunch of HGV drivers, it’s not as simple as that.

“A lot of work has to be done, preparing people who maybe have never worked before, people who really need guidance.” 

And employment can play a big part in reducing the chances of re-offending but it is not the only factor.

Sam Julius, policy and public affairs manager at Nacro, a social justice charity whose work includes supporting people in custody and ex-offenders, said  “prison leavers without a stable home are 50 per cent more likely to reoffend. 

“If the government could provide a broad support package for people who leave prison, they are going to do a lot more to cut re-offending and this will help with homelessness as well. 

“From our perspective, the main thing you can do to help prison leavers is provide housing. The government announced earlier this year some funding for temporary accommodation for prison leavers, but so far they’ve only announced one year’s worth of funding. 

Article continues below

“We agree with the government, more needs to be done to remove the barriers to employment […] but these issues can’t be looked at in silos. 

“For example, if you have an employer who looks at the application of someone who has all the skills but that employer doesn’t want to hire someone coming out of prison, then it doesn’t matter that they have the skills.

“Implementing the policy will be a matter of political will and funding.” 

Advertisement - Content continues below

Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas

Every time you buy a copy of The Big Issue, subscribe or donate, you are helping our vendors to work their way out of poverty by providing 'a hand up not a hand out.' You’re helping Big Issue vendors achieve their #BigWish

Recommended for you

Read All
An employee's market? Long term unemployment for young people is still higher than pre-pandemic
Youth unemployment

An employee's market? Long term unemployment for young people is still higher than pre-pandemic

This pioneering project defied national reoffending rates - by giving young people a job
Employment

This pioneering project defied national reoffending rates - by giving young people a job

MPs launch inquiry into NHS staffing crisis
Employment

MPs launch inquiry into NHS staffing crisis

What is the 4 day working week and why are UK campaigners calling for it?
Four day week

What is the 4 day working week and why are UK campaigners calling for it?

Most Popular

Read All
Video showing Boris Johnson repeatedly 'lying' to parliament hits 40 million views
1.

Video showing Boris Johnson repeatedly 'lying' to parliament hits 40 million views

Legacy benefits freeze left disabled people living on ‘historically’ low payments, court hears
2.

Legacy benefits freeze left disabled people living on ‘historically’ low payments, court hears

'Noel Gallagher was mega hungover and Will.i.am kept walking off' - The stories behind Big Issue photoshoots
3.

'Noel Gallagher was mega hungover and Will.i.am kept walking off' - The stories behind Big Issue photoshoots

Plans to remove British citizenship without notice 'would repeat Windrush mistakes'
4.

Plans to remove British citizenship without notice 'would repeat Windrush mistakes'

Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas