Scheme to help HMP Leeds prisoners find work after serving sentences
A scheme to support convicted criminals to find work when they are released from prison has been boosted after five prison work coaches were appointed at job centres across Leeds and West Yorkshire.
In February, HMP Leeds signed up to a local partnership agreement with the Department for Work and Pension to help offenders find jobs after they are released from custody in a bid to cut reoffending rates.
Prison work coaches at HMP Leeds liaise with coaches at job centres and aim to ensure the learning curriculum in prison is relevant to the jobs on offer once they are released.
Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince visited HMP Leeds on Tuesday to meet governor Steve Robson (June 15) and to see first hand the work of DWP’s prison work coach team.
Rebecca Owen, prison work coach manager for Leeds said that where prisoners who are on a short sentence, or are due for release imminently, they will have the opportunity to work with DWP and other partners to identify their needs and address them before release.
Ms Owen said the Leeds DWP social justice Team will work with ex-offenders in the community to ensure support continues.
Ms Owen said the vast majority of prisoners do not tell their employers about their conviction or sentence.
She said prison work coach managers speak to prisoners on their first night at HMP Leeds.
They ask for prisoners' permission to contact their employer and tell them the situation and reveal the offence committed in a bid to try and save their existing job.
Ms Owen said coaches achieve a 63 cent job retention success rate by interacting with prisoners' existing employers.
Miss Owen said it is important the coaches at job centres will keep the prison work coaches updated with the changing labour market in Leeds.
She said: "We will share the growth areas week on week in Leeds with the prison work coaches."