Ex-prisoners will receive support to start their own businesses
with a new fund backed by London's high sheriff
James Furber, the high sheriff of Greater London, has thrown his weight behind a new fund that aims to help people leaving prison become entrepreneurs. The programme will provide inmates with peer and professional mentors who will assist them with business planning and personal development.
Successful candidates will be given the cash they need on release to start their own business. The scheme was launched by Beating Time, an organisation that provides choirs in prisons, and Enterprise Exchange, which runs self-employment courses in prisons.
Read more: Entre-perp-neurs? Turning prisoners into entrepreneurs could save £1.4bn
"Visiting prisons I see huge potential in many prisoners," said Furber. "We’ve doubled our prison population in the last 20 years. If we want change, we have to create the opportunity to change, which is why I’m supporting this initiative by Enterprise Exchange and Beating Time.”
In the year ending June 2016, 74,713 people were released from prison in England and Wales. Only 27 per cent of those people found work. Re-offending is another common problem that stable employment could help solve, the two companies said.
The current prison population is around 85,000, yet for those serving sentences under 12 months, 60 per cent will go on to re-offend in the year after their release. Stable employment reduces the probability of re-offending by up to 50 per cent.
Beating Time and Enterprise Exchange are approaching entrepreneurs and businesses to contribute to an opportunity fund to finance the entrepreneurship programme and provide the seed capital to kick-start the businesses that emerge from it.
"This is the kind of collaborative, innovative and entrepreneurial approach we need, if we are to turn people who have served prison sentences into societal assets, rather than liabilities," said Phil Ashford, director of Enterprise Exchange.
Ashford added: "In addition to a well thought through business plan, we will have had the chance over a 10-week period to see how well candidates cope with new challenges, interact, collaborate and network. We’ll see how committed they are. We’ll put them under the pressure of a performance and know how they react to that.
"Building a business is about more than a good idea and a business plan. Our investors, want to know who we are investing in, not just what."
Read article here: http://www.cityam.com/267110/ex-prisoners-receive-support-start-their-own-businesses-new
We are hopeful that you will be able to provide further training for us as all previous courses have been a resounding success with positive feedback from all attending. I know that at least one of the entrepreneurs from the first course continues to trade and now has a successful business. Another is employed full time and has been for over 12 months. As many of the initial course participants are no longer supervised by probation it is difficult to advise on the continued employment success for these people but as they are no longer with us we can take that as a successful outcome.
The last course that was sponsored by John Lewis is more recent so we can report that 7 service users took part and all have reported a significant boost to motivation and positivity as a result. There seemed to be a real group bonding amongst this cohort and they expressed how supportive they had found the group.
Even before they embarked on the 1:1 support element of the training, 2 of the participants reported positive results in relation to their business development. Cliff secured a contract with a local gym to allow him to work from their premises and Adam was successful in presenting his pitch to ‘The Entrepreneurial Spark’ project and has been offered a place. Both Cliff and Adam have advised me that the course played a significant part in achieving this success. Cliff continues to work via the gym several months later.
Whilst the course is not necessarily suitable for everyone, not all of our services are budding entrepreneurs, it has a significant impact on those who have the most limited options. This type of training is not readily available, especially not free of cost and without the sort of restrictions that would exclude our more difficult to help service users, therefore it makes a huge difference to those that take part.
Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company Ltd
We love to empower people through entrepreneurship and in our blog you will find news, practical advice, information and encouragement to make your dream business come to life.