13 March 2017
Greggs’ Fresh Start programme gives offenders the skills and confidence they need to turn their lives around
Greggs first started working with offenders in 2010, entering women’s prisons to work with offenders on their confidence, as well as skills such as CV writing and interview techniques. They soon realised that the women had a lot of potential, and they took on their first employee that same year. In 2011 they launched Fresh Start to offer support to people who find gaining employment through conventional routes more difficult, following the principle of ‘one person at a time’.
Roisin Currie, People Director, Greggs:
Our Fresh Start programme aims to help to break the cycle of reoffending by demonstrating that ex-offenders can play a meaningful role within business. At Greggs we feel that we have a duty to make a difference to local communities by providing those at a disadvantage with opportunities to move their lives on, and this has led us to recruiting some very committed, loyal individuals.
We have three key focus areas:
- Sustained employment opportunities – Creates sustained employment through our ready to work programmes for people who may have been affected by long term unemployment such as those leaving care, homelessness and disability.
- Employment and ready to work skills for ex-offenders – Provides specialised employability skills and work experience to assist with an individual’s rehabilitation pathway.
- Work experience – Offers realistic work experience within our offices, shops and bakeries leading to paid employment where possible or a reference to support future employment prospects.
While there are challenges, the benefits more than make it worthwhile. The programme is addressing societal issues such as unemployment and reoffending, both of which place a large financial burden on society.
Laura had been in HMP Drake Hall for a few years when we met her, and she was struggling with negativity and very low confidence. We recognised that she was not ready for employment at that point, but we supported her through an academy programme to help her get ready for work, and she began to gain confidence and participate in activities more and more.
After completing the course, Laura was given the opportunity to move into a more open and trusted accommodation block at Drake Hall, and we could offer her a four week work-placement in one of our stores, which then developed into a paid team member role.
There are a number of benefits associated with the programme. We’re able to help the reduction of unemployment rates among disadvantaged groups by offering them job support, work experience, and ultimately paid employment where possible. This also helps reduce the cost of reoffending to society, as employment is key to helping people turn away from a life of crime, both because of the financial effect and by giving them more direction and purpose in life.
By focusing on one person at a time, we believe that by helping one offender on their journey we also impact their families and the communities in which they live. Our employees also enjoy the opportunity to get involved in an initiative outside of the day-to-day business through volunteering. We strongly encourage other businesses to get involved with similar initiatives and recognise these benefits for themselves.
“I feel so much more confident than I did. I love the shop, and the people I work with. I’m loads more confident, and feel ready to return home and be a normal person. Working at Greggs is helping me to secure somewhere to live when I get released and in the future I want to start again and continue working with Greggs and even go into a management role”.
Laura, Greggs ROTL employee