Employment programme to reduce re-offending in Brent gets underway

4 July 2019

Pictured: Jonny Pilkington , Redemption Roasters’ Public Sector Engagement Manager, Asi Panditharatna, Forward Trust’s Director of Employment Services, Cllr Amer Agha, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Employment & Skills, Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, Gee Punia, Forward Trust’s Head of Operations and Annie Gale, RAW Talent Manager at COOK.Employers and ex-offender support organisations and training providers came together at Brent Civic Centre on Friday (June, 28) to mark Employability Day 2019 and the start of a new programme to help those leaving prison avoid reoffending, by giving them a fresh start in life.

The programme, ‘Bright Futures,’ will help ex-offenders who, given their criminal past would otherwise struggle finding work, into employment and adapt back into society.

Catering company and food retailer Cook and barista trainers Redemption Roasters were among those who attended the event, where representatives from more than 20 organisations discussed their experiences on what the barriers were in encouraging more employers to hire ex-offenders and the benefits to both businesses and local communities of employing ex-offenders.

Earlier this year, Brent Council successfully secured £100,000 in funding from the Department of Work and Pensions to pilot the Bright Futures Programme, which is being delivered by The Forward Trust and will run for two years.

Through the programme, employers will be offered a bespoke recruitment service to match skills and experience to available roles and provide in-work support for ex-offenders.

 Cllr Amer Agha, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Employment & Skills, said:

 “We know that without proper support, many ex-offenders will simply pick up from where they left off and continue with a life of crime, which is bad news for them, for society as a whole and in particular, those who are the victims of crime.

 “There’s a clear benefit to society in employing ex-offenders, but there is a strong business case too as many ex-offenders do have useful skills and are particularly motivated to make a success of the opportunity that they have been given and avoid falling into their old ways.

 “It was great to spend Employability Day hearing many stories of people who have done exactly that, and I hope that through the Bright Futures project, there will be many more lives that we can help turnaround here in Brent.”

 Asi Panditharatna, The Forward Trust`s Divisional Director of Employment services said:

 “We were delighted to celebrate the 4th Annual Employability Day with Brent Council, our partners and employers. This year Employability Day was about, `Closing the Gaps’ and Bright Futures will be contributing to this by supporting more ex-offenders to enter, sustain or progress in a job or apprenticeship. As an organisation, we believe closing the gaps is important as we believe in building an inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and succeed and employers are able to recruit and develop a diverse range of talent in their organisations.”