Thoughts, stories and events to share

Elite Project Services

James Gourlay, about 3 years ago

“If you can deal with the Scrubs, you can deal with the railways". This is one of the first things that Martin tries to put across to those on his rail-track training course, and Martin knows. Having spent years in and out of prison, he is aware of what it takes to get out of that situation and what the course participants must do now to rebuild their lives.

Elite Project Services delivers a ground breaking three-week training programme that trains people in custody to work on the construction and maintenance of the UK's railway networks. We talked with Martin to learn more about the course and the journey that led him to create it.

For Martin working on the railways was a key factor that moved him away from committing crime, “I'm the same person, but I don't commit crime now", Martin says. He saw that what he was doing didn't pay, and going back to prison would mean he lost the legitimate income he was making, and also destroy the life he had built with his family. Through finding a career that was economically beneficial, and by feeling like he had something of value that he didn't want to lose, Martin turned his back on crime.

This change led him to want to pay something back. He wanted to help others in a similar position as he had previously been find a way out of crime, and so he went about setting up an in-custody rail-track training course.

Martin has built the course so that the candidates gain all the knowledge they can whilst inside to prepare them to work on the rail network upon release. Over the three weeks of training delivered by Elite Project Services, candidates will receive a wide variety of instruction that is directly applicable to working on the construction and maintenance of the rail network. This includes first aid, fire safety, and small tools training – all of which are required if one wishes to work in the rail industry. Furthermore, the course delivers practical teaching of the tasks required of people maintaining railway tracks; this is all done on a rail track on site. As part of this the trainees are given instruction towards gaining the Personal Track Safety qualification. This is the only aspect of the course that they cannot fully complete in custody, and upon release a number of candidates will have the final 2 days of training they need to gain the certificate paid for by the Elite Project Services, enabling them to start work immediately in the rail industry.

Another great advantage of Martin's personal experience is that after years in the industry he has built up a comprehensive network of organisations that are looking to recruit new staff members. Martin understands that when you get released from custody “you need support straight away". Therefore, Martin ensures that he introduces candidates that want to work in the sector to organisations or individuals that can offer them work.

With huge infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, Thames Tideway, High Speed 2, and on the on-going maintenance to the already overstretched rail network, Martin sees this as a huge opportunity to find employment for those who want to rebuild their lives after prison.

The ultimate success of the programme is built upon the foundation of Martin's experience. His knowledge of the industry means he knows exactly what skills trainees need, and his experience of building up a network of employers over the years allows him to introduce candidates to employment opportunities. When this is combined with “the trust the guys have in the course because of my background", one has a situation that means candidates can truly see the benefit of the course, put their faith in it, and use it as a vehicle to rebuilt their lives.

If you would like to support Martin and Elite Project Services or are interested in employing any of the candidates that have trained on their courses please get in touch: