As part of the ongoing development of its employability provision, Gower College Swansea has been working closely with a number of prisons to expand the support on offer to ex-offenders. Through its flagship Better Jobs, Better Futures programme based at its city-centre Employment Hub, the college has developed a comprehensive package of support for offenders on release from prison, as well as those serving non-custodial community-based sentences.
This package of support provides a flexible, open-ended and individualised programme, aimed at assisting ex-offenders into employment as soon as possible on release. Continuing post-employment support is a key feature of the programme, in order to overcome any barriers to retaining work and to encourage and facilitate future progression.
To date, the programme has engaged with over 500 individuals resettling to the Swansea area, including Ashleigh and Jason, who have shared their comments about the support they received:
“I was very anxious about finding a job due to my conviction, but the right support gave me the framework and confidence I needed to secure my dream career. Thanks to Better Jobs, Better Futures, I am achieving my goals and have gained so many new skills, and so much experience working in an exciting career with a fantastic local charity.”
“Better Jobs, Better Futures were able to secure me an interview whilst I was still in prison, which I found quite astonishing and that further reassured me that I was actually employable. Upon release, I met more of the team at the Employment Hub, who were all very positive, and more importantly wanted to talk to me about my skills, experience, knowledge and aims for the future, as opposed to seeing my conviction as barrier. I gained confidence from the whole team’s attitude, and secured a really exciting job. I am so lucky to be able to say that my future is looking so positive and promising, and all thanks to the support from Better Jobs, Better Futures.”
Work across prisons
The programme’s method of delivery is flexed to meet the needs of each prison and their individual population, but typically involves pre-engagement at the earliest opportunity through consultation sessions between the client and a dedicated Career Coach. These sessions are intended to build trust between the client and coach and will also aim to:
- gain an understanding of the client’s employability needs and job goals;
- discuss potential employment options and opportunities; and
- build an individualised post-release plan
In parallel with this prison-based support, Career Coaches work hand-in-hand with our specialist Recruitment and Workforce Advisers to broker appropriate employment opportunities with the aim of ensuring offenders move seamlessly into work upon release.
One prison the college is working closely with is HMP Parc, Chris Roberts Regimes and Employment Pathways Manager said of the relationship:
“Better Jobs, Better Futures (Gower College Swansea) has been actively supporting offenders at HMP Parc for the last 12 months. They have delivered employability sessions towards the end of their sentences with a view to supporting offenders into sustainable employment upon release from prison. This plays a significant part in the rehabilitation of offenders, helping them to reduce their chances of re-offending, providing ex-offenders with a much needed second chance to turning their lives around in a positive way and that supports their local community.”
The college has also established a strong partnership with HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire in order to provide a similar support pathway for female offenders resettling to the Swansea area. David Durrant Head of Reducing Reoffending said the following about the partnership:
“It is great to have forged a partnership with Better Jobs, Better Futures of Gower College Swansea, and we are pleased with the way the relationship is developing between our two organizations, and are confident that it will provide women being released with additional support in securing training and employment.” HMP Eastwood Park
Despite the challenges posed by Covid 19, the college is continuing to work with prisons and with probation services to adapt its delivery approach in order to maintain continuity of employment support for ex-offenders. So if you would like to find out more about the support on offer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email to: email@example.com