We talk about our support of Project ReMake, the charitable entrepreneurship training programme which supports the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

There’s no doubt it can be hard for people to find fulfilling work after leaving prison. With UK charity Prison Reform Trust reporting that a significant number of those entering the prison system suffer from mental health issues, learning disabilities and a low reading age, it’s not surprising that, on their release, so many ex-offenders find the subsequent job search daunting.

Opportunities for launching professional careers are particularly thin on the ground. Despite the fact that many prisoners have skills which would be extremely valuable in the workplace, our systems and access barriers make it difficult for people to demonstrate these and reach their full potential: once a person has a criminal record the stigma around having served a custodial sentence means that they often have to gravitate towards lower paying roles where there’s less room for progression. Indeed, some of these challenges were documented in the 2021 BBC drama Time which highlighted just how alienating prison life can be, and the hardships that so many people face.

There are, however, green shoots developing in the form of partnerships between charities, government bodies and business, offering ex-offenders the opportunity to develop stable careers and be positive contributors to their communities through work and education.

Welcoming three very talented individuals to Capita permanently

One such green shoot - which we’re proud to have close involvement in - is Project ReMake, the organisation established by Kameel Khan QC to support the rehabilitation of ex-offenders with a 12-week business skills programme to enable former prisoners to build and run their own successful business.

As part of our support for Project ReMake, in 2021 we welcomed our first three participants to Capita onto our internship programme – Project Compass - with three-month paid-for placements to help them get back into work and to grow their skillset.

After being matched with mentors from within Capita, they joined three different teams: one role was with our growth team to help generate new sales, enhancing IT and communication skills whilst providing exposure to sales and growth to strengthen the participant’s entrepreneurial vision. Another role was with our socially responsible resourcing team to help develop important transferable skills in communication, organisation and teamwork. The third placement was for a systems analyst in our education services team to build a more cohesive system for collecting data, helping the participant to build strong research and analytical skills.

The placements have been a huge success and we’re privileged that each of these new colleagues have chosen to share their talents with us, bringing with them strong people skills, as well as drive and ambition. They’ve all proved to be important and valued members of the Capita team and I’m delighted to report that each of our Project ReMake graduates has been offered a permanent role.

Looking forward to our new intake in 2022/2023

The story doesn’t stop there – after the success of our 2021 programme, and seeing the warm welcome extended to participants by colleagues, we’re looking to more than double the number of ReMake graduates we support on our Project Compass internship in 2022 and 2023. As before, we’ll be looking to help each colleague develop their areas of interest and gain a better understanding of how a business operates, with the aim of building on the skills and confidence they need to succeed long-term in the business world.

In common with the 2021 internships, a particularly significant aspect of the programme is that each participant will be paid a living wage throughout the duration of the placement. Poverty is reported to be one of the primary reasons that people turn to reoffending, so it’s crucial that – in addition to building self-esteem and a sense of self-worth - we support people financially as they develop into their roles.

We’re also pleased to continue to contribute to the Project ReMake workshops – I’ve really enjoyed being part of these, joining colleagues from our marketing and finance departments as we support each participant with business plan construction. Alongside this, we’ll continue to donate our apprenticeship levy to help other businesses to employ prison leavers, working closely with public sector clients to remove the barriers that prevent ex-offenders being deployed on government contracts.

Proud – and privileged – to be part of such an important initiative

It’s important to emphasise that it’s not a one way street when it comes to the scheme’s benefits: the programme has had a really positive impact on Capita as a whole, offering mentors the chance to share their experiences with others and learn from the people they’re supporting. From my own personal experience as a mentor on a previous internship programme, I can attest to this – I was very moved by the enthusiasm and talent of my mentee and I gained much from the experience.

I know other Capita managers have benefitted too, saying that, by focusing on an individual’s talents and potential, they’ve gained a better understanding of how to make the most of the skills and aptitudes of other members of their team. And, by opening up opportunities to people with different life experiences, we’re adding an extra dimension to our teams, energising our people with different perspectives on how to reach their goals.

The ultimate reward: making a difference to people’s lives

We wholeheartedly support the government’s plans to support more prison leavers in their search for meaningful work. As a large employer we know we can play a key role in helping to break down the barriers faced by prison leavers, transforming not just their and their families’ lives, but others too: with the impact of re-offending estimated to cost some £18 billion a year, there’s an important potential knock-on effect for communities and society as a whole.

This quote, below, from one of our interns says it all: “To say Capita’s Compass programme and Project ReMake has changed my life would not be an exaggeration. I’ve grown in ability and confidence, learnt new skills and, more importantly, I’ve been able to set a new course in the direction my life is headed, with me in control. Everyone I’ve come in contact with has been welcoming and the access to resources is amazing. I’m pleased to say I am now a full time employee with Capita and looking forward to the future.”

Providing better opportunities for people and feeling that we’re delivering real social value as an organisation is extremely rewarding. By being involved with programmes such as Project Remake, we’re proud to be able to help people of all ages to make a fresh start, equipping them with the valuable skills they need to take their next steps.

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