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New Futures Network

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 3 years ago

The NFN makes life simple for businesses, and demystifies working with the criminal justice system.

-Duncan O'Leary, CEO

The New Futures Network helps companies fill skill gaps and gives ex-offenders the chance for a better life. It is the Ministry of Justice's new specialist strategy to build more relationships between employers and prisons. The NFN is an overarching structure that sits above prisons. They have set up a national network of employer brokers to work with companies all across England and Wales. Each business is allocated to a geographic area and then linked to the relevant prisons within the area that they work. It aims to break the cycle of reoffending which costs society £15 billion a year.

…There are two big advantages. The first is that you get an opportunity to train somebody up before they start to work with you and the second is that you get to know an individual, either through release on temporary licence or through setting up a partnership within a prison itself.

-Duncan O'Leary, CEO

The guys on-site, they are just like everybody else that we come across as an employer. We find they come with a variety of skills and we ensure that they are then given the correct training so they can go to work and join in with the team.

-Claire Coombs, Development Manager, Keltbray

The NFN works with over 120 businesses, offering prison workshops and paid ROTL placements. It targets five key sectors, which the Ministry of Justice have identified as being in need of new talent. By looking for employers in sectors such as construction and retail, the NFN feels it can capitalise on an economic need for employees and develop skills within prison industries through training. One of the key roles of the NFN is to speak to large national employers and encourage them to employ ex-offenders, highlighting the direct benefits to their workforce. In tandem, employment brokers liaise with the businesses' operations in their region and introduce them to prisons in their local area. More than 11,000 prisoners are employed in prisons today, by over 300 businesses or government departments.

The process is simple: the first stage is a conversation between employers and brokers to understand the employers' needs. Brokers offer a tailored service to employers with their access to data about potential candidates. The next step is a prison visit and an opportunity to see industry operations within prison.

In addition to their work brokering new relationships with employers, The New Futures Network is keen to develop strong links with the voluntary sector and assist them in their vital role to help ex-offenders into employment. The NFN is keen to support charities, build new relationships with employers and integrate them further into the infrastructure of employment brokering within prisons. They are looking forward to working with businesses of all sectors and all sizes.

If you are interested in getting involved and think that your business could benefit from hiring a prisoner or ex-offender, please get in touch via Twitter: @NewFutrsNet or register your interest: