BLOG

Thoughts, stories and events to share
Back

Prismstart

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 3 months ago

Gez and Rosy Chetal founded Prismstart in 2018. The scheme supports ex-offenders into meaningful work.

Gez and Rosy are highly experienced within the hotel industry. When hiring, they found it difficult to find people with relevant skills. After working closely with the DWP and the education department at Norwich prison, they were inspired to create a pathway for sustainable work for ex-offenders. The project was self-funded for two years but is now backed by the National Lottery Community Fund.

We've always found it difficult to find staff with the appropriate skill levels, and chefs in particular are really difficult to find, so I was bowled over at the number of people who were behind bars with good qualifications.

-Gez Chetal, Executive Director, Prismstart

Working across five prisons, they have since expanded the scheme to include other industries with skills gaps in the East Angelia region, including construction and logistics.

Gez and Rosy offer workshops and interview sessions for individuals due to be released. During these sessions, they help people determine what area of work they would like to pursue and the next steps to reaching that goal.

The thing is that a lot of people who have been to prison might not be suitable for or want to have front-of-office types of roles, so we try to find something which both the individual and the employer are comfortable with.

- Gez Chetal, Executive Director, Prismstart

Gez notes the huge potential of the hotel industry in supporting ex-offenders and vulnerable communities into work as it offers employment and accommodation, overcoming the cycle of homelessness and reoffending.

You're always taking a chance when you take on a new member of staff and these people deserve it, too. Yes, they've been in prison and they've got 'ex-offender' written on their forehead from the minute they come out, but some of these people are more committed than ones I've met on the outside. They deserve a second chance.

- Gez Chetal, Executive Director, Prismstart

Prismstart is making a significant difference to the communities it serves, with 28 people moving into part time work and around 12 into full time work.

I had one lady who was released from HMP Peterborough and came to work for me as a pastry chef; she's now employed as a chef at a museum in London." Satisfaction in changing lives is massive. It's not always an easy journey, yet most employers would agree that all recruitment comes with challenges.

- Gez Chetal, Executive Director, Prismstart

Gez and Rosy have gained high profile support from MPs including Dominic Raab, Liz Truss and David Liddington, in addition to charities such as The Prince's Trust and St Michael's Hospice.

You're always taking a chance when you take on a new member of staff and these people deserve it, too. Yes, they've been in prison and they've got 'ex-offender' written on their forehead from the minute they come out, but some of these people are more committed than ones I've met on the outside. They deserve a second chance.

- Gez Chetal, Executive Director, Prismstart

For employers in the East Angelia region looking to open up their recruitment to include those with a conviction, please do get in touch with Prismstart here.