Members of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community are twice as likely to be unemployed than the general population. 55% of all ex-offenders are economically inactive. Ex-offenders from the BME community face even higher levels of exclusion from the labour market. Research has established that being in employment is a key factor in reducing re-offending.Effective resettlement of ex-offenders remains one of the biggest challenges, not just for thecriminal justice system, but for anyone interested in creating safer communities.
By trialling programmes designed to enhance cultural identity, improve attitudes towards work and behaviour in the workplace, develop the role of mentors and promoting the achievements of individuals, Ascend aims to improve the employment and resettlement prospects of BME ex-offenders. An additional aim is to empower ex-offenders to not only gain education, training and employment pre and post-release, but also to sustain it long term.
Working with the University of Manchester, Ascend has conducted extensive research into the specific barriers to employment experienced by BME ex-offenders and a Consultation with Employers report
Resiliance and skills development
Piloting the development of a Positive Knowledge course for ex-offenders to develop cultural identity, positive self-esteem and empowerment.. A bespoke cognitive skills training course has also been developed that uses thinking and problem-solving skills to address barriers to employment and sustaining work. The programme, called Thinking Skills for the Work Place, has been validated by the Prison Service and is currently available for dissemination
Receording and learning attainment.
Using Portfolios of Achievement, the formal and informal learning, behaviour and work of ex-offenders while they are in custody is fully recorded.
Establishing a database of regional employers who are willing to support ex-offenders back into work, and building links to promote opportunities for BME ex-offenders
Working with Voluntary Sector partners and training volunteer mentors to offer support during the custodial period and post-release. The mentors offer ‘through-the-gate’ provision to ex-offenders in a way that statutory services cannot. This continuity of service helps ex-offenders through the vulnerable early period of resettlement and enhances chances for sustainability
Producing information and opportunities for staff to address institutional barriers experienced by BME ex-offenders and effective working with a diverse population
BME men and women who are in custody in: HMYOI Thorn Cross, HMPs Styal, Risley, Buckley Hall, Kirkham, Garth.