Big Idea Fund: Five new projects awarded funding to unlock potential and support rehabilitation

by Nov 8, 2023Funding, Future Skills Commission for Prisons, News, Prisoners and ex-offenders

Back in June we announced that we were inviting expressions of interest for the second round of our Big Idea Fund.

The £1m Big Idea Fund was established in 2019 as the first major initiative of our Foundation, to support prisoners with upskilling to aid their rehabilitation on release.

Following an initial shortlist, 11 projects out of 37 applications were invited to submit a full application which was scored by our Commissioner Panel which includes City & Guilds Chief Executive, Kirstie Donnelly MBE; London prisons Group Director, Ian Bickers; Head of Timpson Foundation and Director of Inclusion and Diversity for Timpson Group, Darren Burns.

We’re delighted to today announce the five successful projects to receive funding with a share of £380,000 are:

St Giles

£70,000 awarded to St Giles for a programme to empower the next generation of youth workers at HMP Drake Hall.

This project, located near the town of Eccleshall in Staffordshire, will empower women aged 18-25 to achieve their Level 3 award in Youth Practice. It will also facilitate release on temporary licence (ROTL) placements.

“This funding will enable women in prison to harness their lived experience of overcoming trauma and disadvantage and support young people going through it right now. By providing this package of training and support to the women, they can move their lives forward and take others with them on a positive path, preventing future crime and strengthening communities.” – Steve Clarke, Head of Midlands Services at St Giles

Inside Job

£50,000 awarded to Beating Time in partnership with The Recruitment Junction for their ‘Inside Job’ initiative that helps find jobs for people while they are serving their sentences.

This project will benefit over 400 inmates based at HMP Birmingham and Hewell (Redditch); HMP YOIs, Brinsford (Wolverhampton) and Swinfen Hall (Lichfield) – all in the West Midlands – and HMP Northumberland, in the north east of England.

“Post prison unemployment is another punitive sentence, to poverty and dependence. It’s a waste and wrong, on lots of levels. Inside Job, is an effective employment programme, thought of and run by people who have served, and others who are still serving, prison sentences. Being able to develop and deliver our own bespoke qualification in employment for people with convictions, thanks to City and Guilds, will enable us to disseminate our unique knowledge base, grow and get more people into work.” – Heather Phillips, CEO / Founder, Beating Time

“We are delighted to extend the hugely successful ‘Inside Job’ model to the north east – it’s absolutely the missing piece of the jigsaw needed to complement our community work placing people with past convictions into employment, and it’s fantastic to have a proper qualification to build around this, which will surely enhance the numbers of folk finding and sustaining jobs and moving on with their lives.”  – Beverley Brooks, Director / Founder, The Recruitment Junction

XO Bikes

£90,000 awarded to ‘Lifecycle’ bike workshop project run by XO Bikes and charity, Chance for Change.

The programme aims to reskill 54 male ex-offenders with practical bike mechanic skills, to help them get a job, on release. The project has three phases: workshop preparation, officer training and delivery. Upon release, trainees will be encouraged to join the XO Bikes training programme to hone their skills, develop confidence and self-esteem, and meet potential employers. They will also be helped to identify and apply for roles in line with their aspirations and needs.

“This ground-breaking initiative will create professional training, certified qualifications and employment opportunities for our prisoners which we know is vital in supporting rehabilitation. All of us at Pentonville are committed to making this unique Bicycle Repair Workshop a great success.” – Revd Jonathan Aitken, Prison Chaplain at HMP Pentonville

CIPD Trust

£70,000 awarded to women’s prison skills project, run by CIPD Trust and based at HMP Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire.

This is a mentoring programme at HMP Styal aiming to help 40 women develop the necessary confidence, soft skills, and employability tactics they need to find a job. The mentors are experienced HR professionals (all CIPD Members), who will support the ex-offenders, both before and after, their release from Prison. The pilot is based on a successful model that has been used with disadvantaged young people. In previous programmes. Six out of ten participants have moved into employment after being mentored.

“Our programme will provide the support needed to develop the fundamental building blocks of confidence and self-esteem while connecting women with employers that have job opportunities on release. We are delighted to be working with City & Guilds on this important agenda.” – Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD

London's Community Kitchen

£100,000 awarded to London’s Community Kitchen project to train 120 ex-offenders to achieve a City & Guilds cookery qualification.

The programme is implemented through partnerships with prisons, agencies, and organisations that require hospitality workers including London Hilton Group, City of London Corporation and Royal Parks Sites and aims to secure employment for programme participants through the charity’s network of employers, on release.

“Our education program in hospitality for ex-offenders offers a transformative journey of empowerment, cultivating resilience and opening doors to a promising future outside prison walls. We believe everyone should have access to education and look forward to seeing the difference that this programme is going to make.” – Taz Khan MBE, CEO, London’s Community Kitchen

Currently, around 3 in 10 of the 79,000 released from sentences every year go on to offend again at an estimated social and economic cost of £18bn. The Big Idea Fund uses City & Guilds’ convening power to bring together outstanding providers and innovative practice to transform how offenders are being supported into employment.

As with everything funded through the Foundation, we will be closely measuring the impact of our funding and supporting the charities that we have funded.

Speaking about the organisations we have funded, our Chief Executive, Kirstie Donnelly MBE said: ‘There was so much breadth and variety in the applications in this round, which made it really competitive and difficult for the Commissioners to come to a final decision. That being said, we have landed on funding some fantastic initiatives which we believe will really help those in society who are most vulnerable to access employment on release from Prison. We’re all really looking forward to seeing the impact of the funding – on those that participate in the programmes, on the organisations they go on to work for and, ultimately, society of which we’re all part of.’

To find out more about The Big Idea Fund and the programmes funded see our Supporting Rehabilitation page.

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