Thoughts, stories and events to share


Sophie O'Sullivan, about 3 years ago

Ex-seed™ is an employment agency and recruitment network which supports people leaving prison into stable employment.

It is based in the East Midlands and is part of TEAM, the national network of recruitment professionals.

Campaigner and Author Phil Martin founded Ex-seed™ last year in response to the closure of the National Career Service in prisons in 2018. This ended an important route for people in prison to get back into work.

People do change and they should be given the opportunity to change.

-Phil Martin, Founder, Ex-seed™

Phil saw first-hand the huge demand for careers advice inside prisons. Remarkably, whilst still serving the last few months of his sentence, he informally met this need with the support of prison governors.

It is life-changing to sit down with someone and say I believe in you. I think that you can turn your life around. It is in your hands to do it, but I'm going to support you.

-Phil Martin, Founder, Ex-seed™

The employment support Phil provides includes CV, disclosure and interview guidance in addition to the preparation of business plans and grant applications to charities. In creating this venture, Phil drew upon his qualification in Information, Advice and Guidance (funded by Prisoners' Education Trust) and expertise as a former employer of prison leavers in property refurbishment and development.

Ex-seed takes a person-centred approach to employment. This is the best approach for both business and candidate needs. For Phil, upfront and sincere disclosure helps employers to understand what went wrong, why it won't go wrong again in future and reveals personal insights into the character of each applicant.

Rather than saying there's an employer who employs ex-offenders, I like to look at a person's individual skills, knowledge and experience and say what company could be the best fit for this person.

-Phil Martin, Founder, Ex-seed™

Phil supports both entry-level and skilled candidates across a wide range of sectors from construction to IT and office management. So far, he has helped 512 people into employment.The future is bright for Ex-seed with a view to develop more self-employment pathways.

We need to call on employers to be much more open-minded to help people resettle and reintegrate into society.

-Phil Martin, Founder, Ex-seed™

He encourages employers to avoid thinking about who is most deserving of a job and instead look at who is talented and most able to do the role. This is one of the most important commercial and social driving forces behind widening talent pools to include people with convictions.

I am seeing green-shoots of hope with employers saying that they do want to give people a chance. With the Ban the Box campaign and New Futures Network, we are seeing a growing awareness that it is very simple. If you want people to not commit crime and to build a meaningful life, then inclusion is the way forward, not exclusion.

-Phil Martin, Founder, Ex-seed™

Employers regularly report a success rate of 95%-98% with Ex-seedplacements. If you are an employer looking to open up your recruitment, please do get in touch with Ex-seed via our directory to find out more about how to get involved.

Phil has recently published a new book The People in Prison and their Potential, with foreword from leading criminologist Faith Spear. One pound from every copy sold will be donated to charity Children Heard and Seen, who do vital work supporting children affected by parental imprisonment.

Phil has also developed the employment handbook How to get a Great Job when you have a Criminal Record. The workbook is jam-packed with exercises, templates, techniques and employer lists. In his own words, it is “literally everything a work-seeker needs to gain employment.” His book will soon be updated to suit the more digital-focused employment landscape following Covid-19, with top tips on how to impress employers online and in video interviews.

He is currently fundraising to get copies into every UK prison, approved premises and probation offices. The initiative has been supported by Inside Job and members of the Corbett Network.

Please do click this link to support this crucial project and help more people in prison into work.