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Unlocking New Opportunities

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 4 weeks ago

Last month, we attended Leicester Business Festival. As part of this festival, Leicester Employment Hub, in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioners Office, Probation, APM, Leicestershire Cares and the Department for Work and Pensions, organised an 'Unlocking New Opportunities' event that focused on the benefits and social value of hiring ex-offenders.

Every ex-offender needs prospects, support and encouragement. This is one of the most important issues of our time.

-Lord Willy Bach, Police & Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire

Earlier this year, Leicester Employment Hub also hosted a PCC Business Breakfast event for employers. They collected 75 signatures, with organisations pledging to #banthebox and consider the opportunities for the recruitment of ex-offenders across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

At 'Unlocking New Opportunities,' it was great to hear speeches from charities, organisations and businesses already working with this disadvantaged cohort. With 70,000 prisoners released each year, we cannot afford to ignore this large cohort of skilled workers.

Key speakers included Lord Willy Bach, Kirk Master, Steve Clark at St Giles Trust, Paul Baker founder of Baker's Waste and Rudi Parra-Watson and Siobhan Hirrell from Leicestershire Cares. Please click here to read our blog on the Wire Project in collaboration with Leicestershire Cares.

-Above: Rudi Parra-Watson and Siobhan Hirrell delivering a speech about their work with Leicestershire Cares.

It is not easy for business to understand, but we have had a lot of success and positive outcomes. Business and hiring ex-offenders does work.

-Paul Baker, Bakers Waste.

This event was unique in that it provided the opportunity for employers with live vacancies to conduct a speed interviewing session with ex-offenders who were deemed as job ready candidates. From a business perspective, this is a great way to meet potential employees, harness their talent and invest in their potential.

Impressively, three people secured work from the event with a further two progressing onto the next stage of interviews. Each of the 20s candidates interviewed received feedback and continued support with the development of theirCVS. Following this success, Leicester Employment Hub are looking to partner with further employers and offer similar in-house recruitment style events; a key access point for forward-thinking employers looking to open up their recruitment.

No barriers; just opportunities.

-Paul Baker, Bakers Waste

Leicester Employment Hub are also offering local employers a grant opportunity of up to £3500. This fund would go towards employing a qualifying individual, the employee criteria includes ex-offenders, on a 12-month apprenticeship or 6-month paid work experience contract. Please contact the hub directly for more details.

At the event, Leicester Employment Hub made the exciting announcement about the upcoming launch of their new website and charter dedicated to the promotion of ex-offenders into employment. We look forward to completion of this new resource in 2020!