Go beyond the gates

VGC Social Impact
Jan 2018

Everyone deserves a second chance. VGC’s programme supports ex-offenders into employment. We offer the opportunity for a long-term career in construction, as part of our corporate social responsibility strategy.

‘Go beyond the gates’ is our programme to support ex-offenders into sustainable employment, helping them to live independently.

Finding work for ex-offenders near to release helps break the cycle of unemployment, homelessness and re-offending.

Stage 1: We connect with charities and social enterprise partners including BounceBack, MindTheGap, Key4Life, A Fairer Chance, Beating Time and Shaw Trust.

Stage 2: We attend employability events run in prisons and for probation services. They meet candidates and listen to their stories. If candidates want to be considered for a career in construction, we work with our partners to arrange any support they may need before and after release.

Stage 3: We liaise with our clients to identify suitable roles. As offenders approach their release date, we match them to job opportunities.

Ex-offenders who are released on temporary licence (ROTL) have the opportunity to gain work experience in a supported environment.

We work with their local prisons to make sure we handle practical considerations including curfew, transport and other restrictions.

Stage 4: Upon release, the candidates become VGC workers, mentored to give them the support they need.

VGC is a founder member of the Infrastructure Employers Forum (IEF). The programme provides careers and job-search advice, and works with the probation service and relevant partner organisations to find housing and additional support to help people get their lives back on track.

‘Go beyond the gates’ has received highly commended in the category of ‘best project: private sector’ at the 2022 Social Value Awards, and won ‘most innovative FREDIE initiative’ at the 2022 FREDIE awards.

We have signed up to Ban the Box, led by Business in the Community.

Go beyond the gates candidate

Case study: Sam*

In April 2021 Sam* began work on the M42 project. He’s gained PAT testing and first aid qualifications and hopes to progress.

In April 2021 Sam* began work on the M42 project. He’s gained PAT testing and first aid qualifications and hopes to progress.

Sam had struggled to gain a job after release. He had two young daughters to support on benefits, and found it impossible to get a new job once he disclosed his conviction.

In April 2021, Beating Time put Sam in touch with VGC, and Suited for Success outfitted him for the interview; we helped with interview tips.

The project is delighted with Sam’s work ethic. With his first wage packet, he took his daughters shopping. He said it was a really proud moment to be able to buy them new trainers for the first time in years.

Sam recently attended an event at Birmingham prison. He talked to other employers, the governor and the education department about his experiences.

His case study is being shared inside the prison to show other offenders that there can be a new life for them on the outside. We worked with Beating Time, Birmingham Prison and Suited for Success, as well as client Skanska, to help Sam* into work on the M42 jn 6 scheme.

The project supported Sam with his HDC (home detention curfew) times, including liaising with his probation officer to help adjust the times to allow him to travel to site, and ensuring he left work on time each day to meet the deadlines.

When Sam missed a probation meeting, he was recalled to prison for a month. During this period the project kept his role open. We liaised with him throughout the month to ensure he was ready mentally to return to work upon his release.

Skanska head of stakeholder, customer, and communications, M42 jn 6