‘I’m doing a placement in a coffee shop now. I really believe Pecan help a lot’ – Christopher, Workout client
‘If someone was into robbery they have skills around time management and attention to detail. If someone was into selling drugs they have quality assurance and customer service skills.’ says Ben Taiwo, Workout programme manager.
As a means of helping ex-offenders to transfer their skills from crime to career, there’s no denying the brilliance of this logic.
Ex-offenders are one of society’s most excluded groups. They often have few qualifications, limited work experience and drug or alcohol dependency problems. Added to which they have to cope with the stigma of a criminal record.
Yet research reveals that finding them gainful employment can help reduce the risk of re-offending by half.
Our belief in the potential of every ex-offender led us, in 2004, to launch Workout.
The journey begins long before an individual is released. A staff member meets with the prisoner and together they draw up an action plan. Soon after release they begin a training course, a voluntary placement and an extensive job search.
The goal is to support all participants into full-time, sustainable employment within eight weeks.
In the five years Workout has been running, there have been over 750 clients on the programme, with an incredible 70% getting a job.
We’re also mentoring local churches as they set up prison ministries, gaining entry to more London prisons, and working with the families of those in prison.
Ben tells a story that sums it all up. ‘We had someone in here who had never worked. He was 47 years old, with 82 criminal convictions. He got his first job through us, and within a month he was promoted to be a supervisor.’
We never stop believing, and our experience is that belief is contagious.