It’s a staggering fact that one in three people re-offend within 48 hours of release from prison and around two thirds re-offend within two years. The cost of this reoffending is estimated to be as high as £13 billion per year. However, where those leaving prison are able to gain stable employment, or training with secured employment, the likelihood of their re-offending is reduced by up to two thirds.
Mosaic’s Ex-Offender mentoring programme aims to help address this issue and focuses on providing support and mentoring opportunities to prisoners aged 18 to 30 who are approaching the end of their custodial sentence.
Through the core programme, trained mentors, many drawn from professional backgrounds, meet prisoners three to six months before release and establish long-lasting relationships which continue into the community-integration phase. By linking young ex-offenders with inspirational role models in this way, Mosaic aims to help boost their confidence, self-efficacy and long-term employability.
Since the programme was established, Mosaic has worked with 15 prisons and Youth Offending Teams nationally, supported approximately 300 individuals transitioning out of custody, trained over 300 mentors and delivered a reoffending rate 20% lower than the national average.
Mosaic is also now delivering innovative new approaches alongside its core ex-offender programme, which aim to engage and inspire inmates by helping them to explore and experience entrepreneurialism.
For example, Mosaic has partnered with Yorkshire Business Leader Noor Ali to run quarterly one-day ‘Product Innovation Challenges’ – as part of the Noor’s Den initiative at selected prisons, which sees business professionals sharing their key challenges, business expertise and knowledge with inmates approaching release. The aim of this activity is to support ex-offenders to develop key skills and to help them think about their future options upon release.
As part of the day – the ex-offenders were encouraged to work in a team, develop an innovative idea, think about all the key business elements from commercials and marketing the idea, and present back to the Den Leaders. One of the feedback received from an ex-offender on this day was “today bought the walls down”; “Thank you for giving me a day out of prison to re connect with myself and my dreams and ambition” and “I feel I am normal, as I can talk to people who are not prisoners and remember I can contribute to a conversation”.
Inmates at Wealstun Prison in Yorkshire were the most recent beneficiaries of this new initiative. Noor Ali, a Category Manager at Morrison’s, and member of the Mosaic Yorkshire Regional Leadership Group, said: “By sharing our knowledge and expertise with prisoners, we want them to think about and develop the essential skills they’ll need to secure employment upon release. These include presentation, team-working, problem solving and leadership skills.”
Mosaic is also delivering similar initiatives in collaboration with a number of corporate partners. The most recent of these saw Mosaic and Mitie, the outsourcing and energy services company, partner to run a ‘Business Challenge Day’ at HMP Brinsford.
The event took a highly participative dragons’ den style format and saw mentors from Mitie and Mosaic staff work alongside inmates at the prison. In small groups, the prisoners were set the challenge of devising a new business idea, with mentors from Mitie on hand to provide support to the prisoners, including advice on marketing, finance and operations.
Following group preparation and rehearsals, the teams then pitched their business concepts to a panel of judges, with awards going to the best presentations. Crucially, during the day prisoners also filled in job preference questionnaires, were provided with careers advice and participated in interviews with Mitie business partners.
Zahida Parveen, Prisons and Programmes Coordinator for Mosaic, paid tribute to Mitie for leading the day and having a positive impact on the participants. She said: “The Mitie mentors really brought the best out of the prisoners and ensured the day was a success.
“As I reflect on the apprehension and suspicion on the prisoners’ faces when the first sheet for a business idea hit the table, never did I think that by the end of the day we would have six products; each a viable idea, confidently presented to us all. It was great to see the conversations that flowed between the mentors and prisoners throughout the event.”
Stephen Barthorpe, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Mitie Group, was equally impressed by what he saw from the prisoners throughout the day. He commented: “The participants from the prisoner population had a respectful attitude to all volunteers and went on a journey throughout the day – they morphed from bewildered, to keen, to confident. It was inspirational and gratifying to be a part of. Our partnership with Mosaic is both rewarding and effective, and we look forward to working with them on more events like this in future.”
Mosaic’s Managing Director, Jonathan Freeman, added: “My deepest thanks to all at Mitie who took part in the recent business development day. The offer of employment can make a huge difference to the lives of ex-offenders and their communities. Through our ex-offender programme, and through partnership initiatives such as that delivered with Mitie, we want to help ensure that these young people are in the best possible place they can be to secure a job upon release.
“We’re always looking to forge new partnerships with organisations that share our values and who would welcome the opportunity to engage and inspire ex-offenders, both in prison and in the community. If your company would like to find out more about partnering with Mosaic, please get in touch.”