HMP Low Moss is the first facility in Britain to adopt new employment programme.
A new scheme aimed at preparing prisoners for sustainable employment opportunities upon release, has seen its first group of successful participants find work.
Shaw Trust Scotland, an employment, disability, learning and skills charity, formed a partnership with HMP Low Moss near Bishopbriggs to deliver the scheme.
The pilot enabled the charity to deliver its Work Choice programme, a voluntary employment scheme that helps people to achieve better job outcomes, to eleven offenders nearing the end of their sentences.
From left to right: Kevin Tough, Employment Coach at Shaw Trust Scotland, and former offender Kevin, one of the scheme's successful clients, who found work after release from prison.
Of the 11 participants taking part in the pilot scheme, six are all now in employment following their release. The remaining five awaiting release have all secured jobs*.
The pilot was primarily designed to combat high levels of reoffending in Scotland. Research shows that a lack of employment, housing and issues surrounding relationship breakdown are the main contributing factors towards re-offending. Shaw Trust Scotland believes that one of the best ways to help reduce the cycle of crime is to help offenders find quality employment.
Those taking part in the programme were offered training programmes starting 12 weeks prior to their release. The scheme took into consideration their own individual ambitions and skill sets, along with their employment history. Shaw Trust Scotland provided support and advice, along with CV writing and interview training. The charity also arranged for suitable employers to visit the prison to interview participants for roles upon their release.
Commenting on the success of the pilot, Ashley McCloy, Operations Manager for Shaw Trust in Scotland, said:
"Offenders are less likely to commit crime after release if they are given the tools to change their lives for the better and can see a clear route into employment.
"The annual cost of keeping someone in prison in Scotland is approximately £34,000 and many are released without good job prospects, housing, or strong support networks, resulting in high levels of re-offending.
"Our prison employment scheme challenges conventional wisdom on rehabilitation by adopting a person-centred approach to offenders, focusing on individual needs and requirements.
"By providing offenders with this tailored support, prior to leaving prison, we help combat confidence issues along with other behavioural challenges posing challenges to those looking to settle into a normal routine.
"Given the success of the pilot, Shaw Trust Scotland is looking to offer the programme to more prisoners at HMP Low Moss, with a long-term view of integrating it into the core services offered at prisons across the country."
David Abernethy, Governor of Low Moss, commented:
"When someone is leaving prison very often their life has been turned completely upside down and the things the rest of us take for granted, like a safe place to live, the support of friends and family and the capacity to live independently, are not in place.
"In Low Moss we work very hard to help prisoners to address these areas and it is only through the partnership we have with Shaw Trust Scotland, along with training providers and employers willing to take a chance and work with someone from an offending background, that we have had the successes that we have had and which we hope to build upon in the future.
"The prisoners and staff here in Low Moss are hugely appreciative of the support we get from our partners like Shaw Trust Scotland and we believe that what we are doing here will not only help the prisoners who directly benefit but also the communities to which they are returning."
Kevin, 38 from Glasgow, was one of the prisoners who took the opportunity to take part in the programme. During his weekly appointments with Shaw Trust representatives, Kevin Tough and Carol McLees, Kevin received computer training and one-to-one employment advice.
He also took part in mock interviews with real employers - helping to build his confidence and skillset - which resulted in a job offer upon release. Kevin now works two days per week for Cumbernauld recycling firm Cauda Limited helping process bulk cardboard to be reused in in various industries.
Commenting Kevin said:
"The HMP Low Moss programme has been excellent from start to finish and it's given me a big confidence boost. There's not a huge amount of support for people immediately after they've left prison but the training I received in my final months, as well as the support I've had since being released, has been really helpful.
"They've put me on track to complete a construction health and safety qualification, CSCS, which is a big advantage when applying for jobs in the recycling industry and opens up a lot of doors."
Kevin continues to attend monthly appointments at Shaw Trust Scotland's office in Glasgow.