I went to prison last week.
Tideway West invited VGC to join them at an employability skills event run by Key4Life at Brixton prison on Tuesday 17 April. Labour manager Donatus Jausicas and I were pleased to attend.
Key4Life’s mission is to reduce youth reoffending. They deliver rehabilitation programmes to those in prison and to those at risk of going to prison. The national reoffending rate is 64% one-year after release. But only 14% of those who have been through the Key4Life programme have reoffended.
Key4Life invited over 20 companies to talk to young offenders aged 20 to 31 about employment options. VGC was one of three construction companies invited, along with Tunnelcraft and Reliable. Sony, Connexion and DJ Semtex were also at the event.
We began the day with a tour of the prison. We were shown the inmate-staffed restaurant, ‘Clink’. The prisoners are working towards City and Guilds NVQs in food preparation, food service and customer service. This can lead to employment in the hospitality industry.
Another initiative we were shown is the Bad Boy Bakery. This is a six-month programme that was started by Gordon Ramsey and many of the inmates involved go on to work in larger bakeries such as Sainsbury’s.
Our employability skills event was held in the chapel. The event began with introductions and icebreakers before everyone was separated into smaller groups. Each company then had a chance to talk in more depth with inmates about:
- careers they had to offer
- ways to get into their industry
- necessary qualifications
- career progression
- job vacancies
Afterwards, the employers had the opportunity to give feedback to the inmates on their interview technique, presentation and attitude.
All the inmates involved really wanted to improve their life and future. They were all lovely, funny and confident.
We hope some inmates will come and work for us at VGC after their release. I was pleased to give feedback on interview techniques, and I believe we will be able to build a good partnership with Key4Life to help these young people to improve their lives.