Scheme launches to help prisoners start businesses

Two organisations have come together to aid prisoners in starting their own businesses.
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Beating Time, an organisation which provide choirs in prisons, and Enterprise Exchange, who run self-employment courses for prison, have teamed up for the scheme.

The programme itself will combine personal development with business development in order for candidates to obtain the skills to start their own businesses.

It has been backed by James Furber, the new High Sheriff of Greater London.

Successful candidates will also be provided with the cash to start, along with professional mentors to assist them.

Of the 74, 713 prisoners released in England and Wales in the year ending June 2016, only 27 per cent found employment.

Currently, 85,000 prisoners occupy jails in England and Wales. Of those serving a sentence under 12 months, 60 per cent will re-offend within a year. This number is reduced to 50 per cent if offered stable employment.

Enterprise Exchange is run by Phil Ashford (MBA) and Benna McCartney, who have 20 years of experience of helping people set up businesses. Of the 124 prisoners they worked with of recent, 42 have gained employment or started a business.

Beating Time is founded and run by Heather Phillips and Jane Evans. The duo have combined with Ashford and McCartney to develop an all singing and dancing entrepreneurship programme.

Speaking about the collaboration, Phil Ashford commented:

“In addition to a well thought through business plan, we will have had the chance over a 10 week period to see how well candidates cope with new challenges, interact, collaborate and network.”

James Furber said of the scheme, Visiting Prisons I see huge potential in many prisoners.”

We’ve doubled our prison population in the last 20 years. If we want change, we have to create the opportunity to change, which is why I’m supporting this initiative by Enterprise Exchange and Beating Time.”

Former inmates who have turned their training into a business include Joe Davis, who owns a South American restaurant, Panama Joes.

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