This morning a pilot scheme to provide Muslim offenders with support from business to gain employment is being launched by Mosaic in the presence of Justice Secretary, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP.
The new employability scheme has the backing of Mitie Group plc, Roast Restaurant and Millwall FC who are all pledging to support offenders from London prisons by offering employment opportunities to help get Muslim ex-offenders back into the workplace.
Although Muslims make up only 4.2 per cent of the total population, they represent 13.4% (or 1 in 7) of the British prison population with the number more than doubling in the past decade to nearly 12,000. Yet research suggests that Muslim prisoners are not accessing the support they need to successfully integrate into society and employment upon release.
Employment is proven to reduce the likelihood of re-offending by up to 50%. The new scheme aims to address this by helping more young Muslim offenders gain vital employability skills and mentoring directly from large employers.
The Mosaic Ex-offender programme works with young Muslim prisoners aged 18 to 35 years old who are approaching the end of their custodial sentence. Developed in partnership with the Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH) it offers a one-to-one mentoring relationship for 12 months; six months during custody and six months in the community.
Mentors work alongside prison staff to provide support and stability by offering wide-ranging practical assistance, including helping prisoners to secure housing and employment.
The partnership, between Mosaic, and Mitie the FTSE 250 strategic outsourcing company, will involve volunteers from Mitie supporting prisoners from HMP/YOI Isis and HMP Brixton through employability workshops over the next year.
Mitie will also offer work placement opportunities to participants. In addition, Mosaic has secured further support to help ex-offenders engaged on their mentoring schemes from Borough Market’s Roast Restaurant and Millwall Football Club.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
“We cannot go on with a situation where thousands of prisoners are released onto the streets every year with no guidance or support, and are simply left to reoffend.
“Many prisoners have had fractured childhoods, addictions, exposure to violence and a lack of positive role models. Mentors can’t unpick all of that. But through organisations like Mosaic they can give offenders a fair chance of staying on the straight and narrow by being a wise friend, supporting them with finding a job or somewhere to live.
“This needs businesses, like Mitie and Roast, to step up to the plate by providing mentors and job opportunities alike.”
Ex-Offender Al has been working with his Mosaic mentor since being released after serving four years in prison. He said:
“I needed some direction in life. Whilst in prison I had no idea what I would do upon my release. I knew I don’t want to slip back into my old ways yet didn’t know how to break the cycle. Since working with my mentor I feel more confident about how I can change my life. All of my focus now is on making that change happen.”
Jonathan Freeman, Mosaic National Director, Business in the Community said:
“The reoffending rate for short-term prisoners stands at around 60% yet the likelihood of reoffending can be cut by up to 50% if an offender leaves prison with secured accommodation and employment. Providing mentoring support to Muslim ex-offenders can provide a significant contribution to stemming the rising disproportionate number of Muslims in the prison system and businesses has the potential to make a significant difference to this issue.
“We are delighted that Mitie has partnered with us to provide targeted employability support to prisoners that need it most, and we urge other businesses to consider the part they can play.”
Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, CEO of Mitie, said:
“The Mitie Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to join the world of work, by raising aspirations and unlocking people’s true potential. We are delighted to be able to support Mosaic’s efforts to help those who wish to turn their back on previous criminal activity to get back in to the workplace, making a positive contribution to society.”
Iqbal Wahhab OBE, Founder of Roast & Cinnamon Club restaurant, said:
“As the originator of Mosaic’s offender mentoring programme, I believe this is a hugely beneficial development. At Roast we firmly believe that we’re less interested in where you have come from and more in where you want to go.
“I am proud of Roast’s commitment to helping ex-offenders and hope that many other businesses will step up to the plate.”
Continuing our support to Muslim Ex-offenders, Mosaic is conducting research with the Prisons Reform Trust and the Woolf Institute, University of Cambridge to explore the current high population of Muslims in prison. This is looking at what the key reasons for the disproportionate number of Muslim prisoners are and will identify their specific needs. The new research will also investigate why Muslim prisoners report a more negative experience of prison compared to other groups.