29 September 2020
Seetec Justice and Cidon Construction Change Perceptions on Employing Ex-Offenders
Whilst half of employers say they wouldn't employ someone who'd been in prison, Cidon Construction offers insight into their positive experience of working to rehabilitate ex-offenders.
At Seetec Justice we're committed to working with employers to break down barriers when it comes to hiring ex-offenders. There are individuals who often have the right skill set required for their trade, but struggle to access new work opportunities once they are released.
Since March 2020, 695,000 jobs have been cut due to the COVID pandemic and 4,000 prisoners were identified for early release, making the likelihood of ex-offenders getting work lower than ever. This is further proven by statistics from the Ministry of Justice, showing only 17% of prisoners leave with a job and up to half of employers say they cannot see the value in employing someone who has been in prison.
Construction specialist Cidon is bucking this trend however, having taken on 12 ex-offenders with the support of Seetec Justice. The successful partnership started back in 2018 after Cidon Director Stephen Simpson heard a radio discussion about helping ex-offenders to rehabilitate, find work, access housing and break the cycle of crime.
Stephen explained: “At Cidon we take our corporate social responsibility initiatives seriously. When the opportunity arose to look at employing ex-offenders, we felt it would be the right thing to do as, when we’re in the position to do so, we want to be able to give people from all backgrounds a chance.
“More businesses like us need to get involved, we’re only a very small cog in a huge wheel. If we can take 12 ex-offenders in the space of 18 months, then a lot can be done. It’s important to educate other business leaders about the benefits of employing ex-offenders.”
Ministry of Justice figures show the re-offending rate for those who do not enter employment is almost two and a half times higher than for those who have employment (43%,compared with 18%).
At Seetec Justice we've supported 200 prisoners in preparation for their release in the last 18-months, arranging day release opportunities and engaging with local employers. This resulted in nearly half of them securing offers of employment for when they were released, nearly three times the usual employment figure for male prisoners.
We also welcome new legislation in the shape of the Criminal Record Reform, which will reduce the time it takes for certain convictions to become ‘spent’ so they are no longer automatically disclosed on employment checks. This will only happen after successful completion of a period of rehabilitation.
One of the ex-offenders taken on by Cidon was concerned about his chances of finding employment after release. James heard about the rehabilitation programme in prison and, as he had acquired labouring skills whilst serving time, felt it was a great opportunity, matching his desire to find manual work.
James joined Cidon on release and has gone on to gain an NVQ in joinery. He explained: “When you have to disclose your past, you face preconceptions. It was a relief that Cidon were willing to engage with people like me. It’s good to know my employer has faith in me, I’m trying to repay them as I see myself here for the future, not just the short-term.”
James appealed to companies which aren’t part of rehabilitation programmes: “Everyone deserves a second chance, Cidon have invested in me and that has boosted my confidence. I think other employers should follow their example.”
Louise Atherton, Director of Prison Employment at Seetec Justice, said: ”Ex-offenders are often wrongly overlooked by employers, those who have completed a successful rehabilitation journey, backed by the right support to make the transition from prison, are just as employable as anyone else with a similar skill set. The stumbling block is the pre-existing social barriers that need to be eliminated. If we want to help offenders to reintegrate back into the community, working with accommodation, family and community support, employment is critical to a person leading a crime-free life.
“At Seetec our employer-led initiatives are designed to get people into sustainable work following their release. We urge others to follow the lead of businesses like Cidon, who have had great success in helping ex-offenders back into work. Cidon have given ex-offenders a chance to use their valuable skills and feel they are contributing to their society again.”