National Employability Day celebrates the work of the employment services sector across the UK. This year to celebrate Employability Day 2017 (opens in new tab or window)
, Shaw Trust invited officials from the Treasury and DWP to see our Lewisham Community Hub, and also interviewed Jason*, one of our case workers on the CFO3 programme.
CFO3 (opens in new tab or window)
supports clients that have either served time inside prison or have been sentenced to a community order. Clients come to us when they need guidance to help them leave their past firmly behind bars and start a new life chapter they can be proud of. To access CFO 3 clients are referred to us via their offender manager.
Jason is based at a probation office next to a court in North London.
His motivation to support ex-offenders into work comes from his own experience of spending five years in prison. Jason has gone full circle, and now spends his time helping those with criminal records to stabilise their lives and move into work. His motto is, “those who feels it, knows it.”
Jason's job is to help people to increase their employability, however, he does so much more by nurturing them towards transformation. Because he knows what it’s like to be sat in their position. The first thing Jason does when a new client comes to him is to find out what the client’s issues are, what they want to do, to see how he can best help them to come up with a plan.
He said, “We help people, who require the help to change. It is voluntary service, not a court order. We’re not gurus of the world, and if there is something we can’t do we can link them into other services that can help, including getting them on courses, finding them somewhere to live, food banks and mental health support.
Mental health is really important because if someone gets the right support, it will help to stabilise them in the community. If you’re going to build a house you need to build the foundations otherwise it’s going to crumble. So we help our clients to build the foundations with employability as the ultimate goal.
Everyone’s different. Some people come out and they’ve got nowhere to live. Other people, come out, and their girlfriend’s not talking to them and they need to see their kids. Or some people have come out and all they need is a job. Sometimes people come to me with a prison mentality, and I help them to see the bigger picture. It’s so fantastic to see the change and the progress that someone can make in their life.”
Jason tells us about a young woman who he has been working with for three years. He said, “When I first met her she had no children. She had quite a lot of anger issues. But she is now so transformed. She is very mature and independent. Before, she wouldn’t do anything for herself. Now she does everything for herself, she’s a self-reliant family woman. After having her children, she is ready for work.
She had a volatile relationship with her mum and I could see this was going on for a period of time. So one day I got her and her mum in the same room. We sat down and had a talk. There’s certain things you can outline to people and you try to show them the positive and benefits of doing certain things and what the outcomes can be and she took it on board. Because she didn’t want to go back to prison, she grabbed the help with both hands, and we’ve been on a journey from then until now.
We met this guy recently who runs a leisure facility who has offered her the opportunity to run her own business selling food there. I told him about where she’d come from and where she was going. They then met and she explained her story and he empathised a lot with her. So much that he wanted to help by giving her a chance”.
For other job ready clients, Jason works with the social enterprise Blue Sky (opens in a new tab or window)
, which employs and trains people with a criminal record and A Fairer Chance (opens in new tab or window)
who source jobs from companies who see potential in ex-offenders.
If you have been inspired by our story and would like to get involved:
1. If you’re an employer. We have a number of people just like the client above who are waiting for the opportunity to give back. We are looking to collaborate with you (particularly if you have office based opportunities please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. You can support our work by sharing this story.
3. Join us. We are always on the lookout for volunteers (opens in new tab or window)
and staff (opens in new tab or window)
at Shaw Trust to support our clients.
If you would like more information on how to recruit people from disadvantaged backgrounds here’s the government’s See Potential (opens in new tab or window)
*names have been changed