Breaking down barriers and turning lives around

13 June 2018
Image of a secure entrance to a prision.
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The Amey facilities management team at HMP Onley, together with the support of the Governor and HMPPS, has employed an ex-offender to work in the prison where he served his sentence - one of the first prisons in the UK to do so, helping an individual turn his life around. 

During his sentence, Dominic (his name has been anonymised to protect the individual’s identity) was given the opportunity to work alongside the Amey facilities management team as part of the their 'Passport into Employment' programme. This gives individuals the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience and employment support to improve employability and reduced re-offending in the last year of their sentence.

The programme ensures that the work experience opportunities provided are closely linked to existing skills, educational qualifications being undertaken and the career path the individual wishes to pursue once they are released. 

Having impressed the Amey team with his skills, knowledge and commitment to turn his life around, Dominic was offered the opportunity to join the team full-time upon release. Upon release and after enhanced and rigorous vetting processes, as well as several months of discussion with HMPPS and the East Midlands DDC, Dominic commenced full-time employment with Amey as a Store Operative in the unrestricted external stores at HMP Onley in April 2017.

In March 2018 after successfully completing his probation period and undergoing further vetting by the local security team, he has been promoted to General Maintenance Operative, undertaking routine and reactive maintenance tasks within the secure premises at HMP Onley.

Amanda Fisher MD, FM, Defence and Justice said:

“At Amey, we believe in hiring the best people for the job, no matter what their background or history. For me, hiring ex-offenders is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense. There is a growing skills gap within our industry and within our prison population, there is a pool of highly motivated people learning new skills such as engineering, carpentry and plumbing, who just need someone to take a risk and believe in them to help transform their lives. The 'Passport into Employment’ programme we have in place as part of our prisons maintenance contract is helping to support men and women to transform their lives and demonstrates our commitment. I’m delighted we’ve been able to work with the Governor and HMPPS to provide this opportunity and I wish him all the success.”

Matthew Tilt, Governor HMP Onley said:

“As a Cat C Training establishment, it is important that we fully support all men in custody to go on and achieve meaningful employment on release – using the skills developed whilst at HMP Onley and through partnership with Amey we were able to support this individual into a role within the Facilities Management team here at HMP Onley that will aid his successful resettlement and longer-term employability.”

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said:

“If a prisoner gets a job when leaving prison, they are much less likely to re-offend. By employing prisoners this story shows how imaginative employers help their business, help prisoners and ultimately protect the public. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who helps prisoners find work and we want to encourage more employers to take on offenders and help them turn their lives around.”

Amey believes passionately in being strong advocates for rehabilitation and part of this is our commitment to hiring the best people for the job, no matter what their background or history. And no more so is this evident than on our Prisons Facilities Management contract.

Amey is currently working with several prisons, including HMP Lancaster Farms, HMP Hewel and HMP Liverpool,to embed our 'Passport to Employment Programme' and help more men and women nearing the end of their sentence gain meaningful and relevant work experience, so when they leave they are going into work opportunities with confidence for themselves and their families – reducing the likelihood of re-offending."

 Case Study – Dominic’s Story (the individual's name has been anonymised to protect their identity)

My name is Dominic and I was sentenced to 40 months in prison in late 2014 at HMP Onley. I knew upon entering prison it wasn't how I wanted to spend the rest of my life and I needed to change things.

As a skilled tradesman, I was able to get myself on the HMP Onley Project’s Party which is run by the Prison. I was working with a group of prisoners, carrying out tasks such as painting, putting up notice boards around the establishment. I was also able to share my knowledge of building work to the other prisoners in the group and was given a Red Band whilst working in the Project Party which is what only trusted prisoners receive.

I then joined the Amey FM Works Department on their ‘Passport into Employment’ programme where I was able to gain further work experience using my building experience to assist the Amey team with maintenance and project work around the establishment. 

Although I was a serving prisoner, I was made to feel part of the Amey team and was treated as a colleague - they even offered me the freedom to work with them on weekends rather than being locked up on my wing. This gave me a huge boost to my self-confidence.

When I was asked by the Amey’s Site Manager James Langin if I would like to work for Amey on my release, I was shocked. And although Amey employs ex-offenders on other contracts it was unheard of to have one working in a custodial environment. I felt privileged and proud to have been made this offer.

In the hope of gaining a position within Amey, I left my home in Essex and relocated to Rugby Warwickshire. At this point I was not sure if I would be able to gain employment within the prison. But working with Amey had given me the belief and confidence to make this life-changing transition. 

I completed the vetting and had a few meetings with the Governor at Onley, about how I felt about coming back and how people would react to me being back and with the support of Amey’s Account Director, and Regional Facilities Manager, James Langin Armey’s Site Manager, continued to explore the possibility of making this happen

After several months of discussions, with the Governor at HMP Onley, the East Midlands DDC and the HMPPS Senior business leads for the Custodial FM. I received a phone call from James in March 2017 confirming that all parties were happy for me to start full time with Amey initial as a store operative in the unrestricted external stores at HMP Onley - I began my employment with Amey at HMP Onley on Monday 10th April 2017.

One year has now passed and after my initial probation period and further vetting by the local security team and governor, I’m now working as part of the maintenance team, have the authority to hold keys to the secure area within HMP Onley and undertake routine and reactive maintenance tasks.

I am very grateful to Amey for giving me this amazing opportunity and the trust they have shown in me. Also without the belief and support from Governor, I would not have been given this chance. I will not let anyone down and I hope that this can prove to other prisoners that people are willing to give you a second chance.

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