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Unlock Employment and Empowerment CIC

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 2 years ago

Unlock Employment and Empowerment CIC, an award-winning Community Employability Company, was founded by Gerry Keogh in 2017. It is based in the Govan area in Glasgow.

Over the last year, unlock have supported 86 people back into work. Impressively, a third of these candidates who have successfully re-entered the work place have criminal justice experience.

We work with people who want to work.

-Gerry, Founder, Unlock Employment and Empowerment CIC

Gerry used his own employability expertise, after many years in the welfare to work industry, and lived experience of the criminal justice system to create this social enterprise in order to help others gain sustainable, long-term employment.

Taking a person-centred approach to employment, Unlock believes in focusing on matching local candidates to a local role that matches their skills and meets their requirements. Many of these people face multiple barriers to employment, including criminal justice experience and homelessness.

The hardest challenge is convincing people to believe that they can work.

-Gerry, Founder, Unlock Employment and Empowerment CIC

For Gerry, it doesn't matter if candidates have gaps in their employment history.

The best approach is to think positively and take confidence in what they can do and the experience they already have in order to move forward through the application stage. This person-centred method empowers individuals with a choice on what they want to do next; whether that is employment, training, volunteering or further education. At Govan Jobs Match, the future is bright.

90% of Unlock clients state that they are work-ready and don't have any training needs. Many have already completed employment training and wish to use their current skills to go forward into their chosen industries. This is important from an employer's perspective. 1 in 3 men and 1 in 10 of women of working age in Scotland have at least one conviction. There is a wealth of skills available from this pool of talented candidates.

Two Unlock clients who Gerry has helped back into work currently volunteer at Unlock. One of these volunteers is a single parent. Gerry praises their understanding of the complex needs of the local community and they have since gone onto paid employment at Unlock.

Unlock also works with young people in partnership with The Wise Group, asocial enterprise that supports people back into work or education in Scotland and North East England. Unlock are also part of a steering group for Release Scotland, an employer-led network, helping to inform businesses on best practice.

Unlock is fresh, innovative and pioneering in the way in which it helps people get back into work. In the future, Gerry looks forward to building his business and delivering highly specialised employability training and mentoring. He is also working with Glasgow University to measure the social impact of Unlock.

I can demonstrate that I help people into work. I want to use my lived experience to help others. I did not build a career out of being an ex-offender. Unlock is about moving away from a label and moving forward into sustainable employment.

-Gerry, Founder, Unlock Employment and Empowerment CIC