Thoughts, stories and events to share

Service Clean UK

Ellie Price, about 1 year ago

“Everybody in the world deserves a second chance to show they can lead a better life." – Kenneth Ford-Wyatt

We know that the reoffending problem is costing us an estimated £15billion per year and that up to 68% of released prisoners reoffend within a year of leaving prison. However, we also know that an ex-offender who finds work is at least 50% less likely to reoffend.

Kenneth Ford-Wyatt knows this too. An ex-offender himself, Kenneth knows that there is a great deal of talent locked up inside prisons and that prisoners are often engaged in some fantastic courses whilst they are serving their sentences. Having been given a second chance by an employer, when he set up his own company, Service Clean UK - a commercial cleaning company, part of the Quesera Group and a member and stakeholder of the Employers' Forum For Reducing Reoffending - he vowed that he would provide the same opportunities for other ex-offenders. So, with that in mind, 18 months ago Kenneth began to take on ex-offenders. He provides them with training and work experience. He then offers some employment in Service Clean and helps others to secure interviews and employment with other professional cleaning companies. Thereby Service Clean UK becomes in part an onward recruitment programme.

Kenneth Ford-Wyatt

We spoke to Kenneth about his experiences as an employer of ex-offenders.

As an employer, what is your experience of recruiting ex-offenders?

We have found the process challenging over the last 18 months, for example dealing with Probation and meeting the housing needs of our employees. However, we now work with the National Probation Service and assured landlords, and as a result we have a smoother process in place. When you see an individual settled in employment and in a calmed housing environment, there is no doubt in your mind that the challenging process was worth it. In the last 18 months we have taken on 98 ex-offenders and none have reoffended. We have saved the Government over £3.5million. This year, our target is to get 150 ex-offenders back into work.

What are your criteria for employing ex-offenders? How do you pick the individuals you take on?

Our criteria are simple. As long as they are an ex-offender or serving offender and have gained the required qualifications (BICS, City & Guilds, or a NVQ in Cleaning), we would interview them in prison or once they are released. We also take referrals directly from the Reform Prison or from Clean Sheet UK. Working with us, they can then gain extra qualifications including specialist BICS and Autoglym Marine Craft Cleaning (run by KFW Clean, a cleaning company which recruits ex-military personnel and part of the Quesera Group).

Have you had any feedback from companies where you have placed ex-offenders you have trained?

The only feedback we get from forward employers about the ex-offenders we have placed with them is that they are great employees – they ask us to please call them when we have more individuals trained and ready for employment!

Tell us about your connection with Clean Sheet.

We find Clean Sheet a great link with our company. They have connections with over 120 prisons, over 83 national employers on board, and this year they are planning events to get more employers on board.

So far, Service Clean UK has been doing some fantastic work finding ex-offenders employment and reducing reoffending. To date they have recruited, trained and employed 98 ex-offenders and have a reoffending rate of zero. They have won commendations from the Ministry of Justice in 2016 and 2017, receiving a commendation from Andrew Selous MP for Services for Prison Reform in March 2016 and a commendation from Sam Gyimah MP for Services for Prison Reform in January 2017. This year, Kenneth hopes that they will get 150 ex-offenders back into sustainable employment.

"Service Clean are breaking the re-offending cycle" – Andrew Selous, MP