Thoughts, stories and events to share

Points of Engagement

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 3 years ago

There are several different entry points into employing people with convictions. Understanding all the options can be confusing.

Our concise guide in the resource pack maps out all the different routes available to employers. This is a great way of looking at what works best for your business needs. To take the next practical step to make it happen, wherever you are in the hiring process.

Stage One: Explore

Build on your initial interest and connect with the community to see what opportunities are out there.

Employer's Events

Employer's events in the community offer the chance to network with specialists and other employers at different stages of the recruitment process.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, most events are online.

Catch 22 hosted a 'employing prison leavers in your business' webinar in September. Business in the Community regularly host Ban the Box webinars. Unlock and Nacro offer disclosure training. The Mind the Gap Project (led by Be Onsite in partnership with Nacro, A Fairer Chance, Bounce Back and Mitie Foundation) hosts events for employers in the built environment sector. Aspire Oxford organises an annual Employers' Conference focused on supporting businesses to be more inclusive in their recruitment.

Diversity and Inclusion Leaders are hosting a free employer online event on the business benefits on 24th November. Click here to register.

We regularly post employer events on our socials so be sure to check out our Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

Prison Tours

A short tour inside a prison will open your eyes to the wealth of talent available.

To arrange a visit, connect with a local rehabilitation partner with links to prisons in your area. Skillcert runs employer days in prisons if you are in the waste management sector.

Stage Two: Engage

There a many different points of engagement in prisons. This is an opportunity for your company to give back whilst also exploring the potential in this community.

Workshops and Skills Training

A partner organization can help you attend or host your own employability workshop in prison. Or you could host specific skills training in prison.

Both activities are a good way to promote your business culture, skills required and roles available.

We recommend getting in touch with The Learning Curve Group if you want to explore this option further.

Career Fairs

Connect with untapped talent at a careers fair inside a prison. Benefit from a speed interviewing process.

Novus run sector-specific careers fairs in prisons.

We attended a career fair as part of the Leicester Business Festival last year in the community. Click here to read more.

Mentoring in Prison

Consider mentoring people within prisons in an area related to your business. This is a great way to boost employability and enhance management skills.

Before this, the prisoners thought all bankers care about is money.

-Sabrina Boanu–Williams MBE, Relationship Support Manager, Barclays

Barclays run a successful mentoring scheme inside prisons. In its first two years, the programme has supported six prisoners into employment and worked with over 100 people between the ages of 21 and 56.

Switchback and Trailblazers can help you with implementing your mentoring scheme.

Peer-to-peer mentoring

Speak to an employer in your industry with experience. Share knowledge and best practice.

HSS Hire found it beneficial to speak to Timpsons, DHL and Recycling Lives in implementing their hiring process.

It was about drawing upon experiences and learnings and these organisations sharing what they do to enable us to do the same. To allow us to build relationships, go into prisons, speak to people and look at how we can benefit from this group of people that we have not tapped into previously. Relationships with businesses and charities are important.

-Lisa Crawford, Head of HR, HSS Hire

Reach out to the Corbett Network to connect with more forward-thinking businesses and organisations working in this space.

Creative Project

Work in partnership with charitable organisations or universities to run a creative project, both in prison or in the community. It may offer a creative solution to business needs.

Beating Time run choir prison programmes. Employers are invited to attend performance events, as a unique way of sourcing talent.

Stage Three: Employ

Once you have decided to widen your recruitment to include prisoners and/or people with a criminal conviction then there are lots of different ways that you can employ a candidate either in prison or through the gate.

Prison Industries

Explore the business opportunities within prison industries. Is there an opening to help support your production line?

Bakery, waste management, light industry and agriculture are all common activities. Training academies can mimic retail store environments.

Get in contact with the New Future's Network at the Ministry of Justice to explore this further.

Halfords have a Cycle Mechanic Training facility in prisons. Max Spielmann have retail training academies in prisons.

Release on a Temporary Release (ROTL)

Consider hiring or offer a work placement via ROTL. These are especially useful where prisons are located near business centres. It is a sustainable entry point for candidates, with the potential for long-term employment on release.

Recycling Lives offer work-based placements outside prison to candidates approved for ROTL.

Pret A Manger and Greggs also hire on ROTL.

The Foundry Gym successfully hired via ROTL and offered the candidate a permanent job on release. Read our blog here.


Connect with a specialist or local recruitment partner and hire from point of re-entry in the community.

We recommend getting in touch with recruitment experts Offploy, Working Chance, Tempus Novo, A Fairer Chance, Radical Recruit, Unlock Employment and Ex-seed.

Or sign up Key4Life's YOUNITED Employer Charter and offer a work placement, training or apprenticeship to Key4life participants.

If you are in the horticultural or built environment sectors, connect with The Skill Mill and become an employment partner.

Working in partnership fosters the best result for business needs. Please do see our directory for more partners near you!

Four years ago, I started Offploy as a prison leaver. Offploy is a peer-led service, employing people with convictions to mentor others with convictions to secure meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment. We work with employers to give them the confidence recruit, hire and mentor people with convictions. We believe that this reduces reoffending and makes society safer.

-Jacob Hill, Managing Director, Offploy

Stage Four: Celebrate

Having successfully recruited from this untapped talent pool then it is important to share your experience with other employers, to help them see the potential in this community.

Work with us to celebrate your success.

We support internal publications and features in the national press.

Check out our blogs and employer films featuring HSS Hire, Specsavers, Virgin, Landsec and The Right Course.

This makes good business sense. We need a skilled construction workforce for the future and there is so much untapped talent within the prison estate.

-Debbie Akehurst, Head of Economy and Communities at Landsec