With Thanks to Martin Trendall for this month’s blog
If I thought twelve months ago, when I started my new job as Recruitment Manager for Lawmens Ltd, that I would be spending my 1st year anniversary in HMP Thameside, then I might have had second thoughts about accepting the job. However, there I was in the Visitors Reception, at 9.30am on Tuesday 12th September 2017, waiting to be escorted through Security to a Jobs Fair that I had been invited to by Clean Sheet.
How did this invitation arrive on my desk? Well, as part of my role as Recruitment Manager I was tasked by Lawmens’ CEO to look into areas for recruitment not yet explored by the company. We had previously recruited through the usual avenues: Online Jobs boards, newspapers/magazines and, of course, good old word-of-mouth. This had proved fairly successful but was by no means the complete answer to our recruitment requirements. By looking outside of the proverbial box, I started to think about areas that other companies might not try and tap into. This led me to search for companies that had an interest in the rehabilitation of offenders. Top of that list was Clean Sheet.
After sending an initial e-mail to Clean Sheet I was contacted by phone by a very nice young lady who explained what Clean Sheet are about and how we could register to become an Employer. She explained that Clean Sheet could put us in contact with ex-offenders that are looking to start a new life, after release from prison, with preferred employment in the Construction/Demolition field.
On the Inside
Through my conversations with Jane Gould Smith, I learnt about the up and coming Jobs Fair at HMP Thameside. This opportunity was just too good to miss so I jumped at the chance to attend. The joining information arrived promptly at my inbox, along with the dos and do nots of visiting one of Her Majesty’s prisons. This is not the first time that I have had the pleasure of seeing the inside of one of these establishments as in a previous life I have visited HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville and Reading Prison. This was by far the most enjoyable, however!
We were escorted to Faith Centre which is a very modern building; the atmosphere was relaxed. Once at the Centre I was shown to the Clean Sheet table and introduced to Jane Gould Smith and her team. I was made very welcome by them and pleased to find that they had set aside an area for me to put my wares and literature.
At 10.15 the prisoners started to arrive. For the next hour and a half, I had the pleasure of meeting some very amenable people. They were polite and seemed keen to hear what Lawmens could possibly offer them as a job opportunity when they leave prison. The first session ended at 11.45 when a superb buffet lunch was provided. We had a chance to network with other attendees and some of the Prison Staff. At 13.45 sharp, the afternoon session began. Again, the inmates were pleasant and the time seemed to fly by. I couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed and in no time the session finished at 15.15.
Hopeful for the future
I have a great deal of hope that this will be a productive relationship between Clean Sheet and Lawmens Ltd. Although we are yet to hear from any of the Prisoners that I met, I have a strong belief that I will in the future. As for the event itself, I feel that this may have been my first Jobs Fair at a Prison but don’t believe that it will be my last.
The everlasting feeling that I got from my day at HMP Thameside was that for a lot of the time I was there, I forgot that I was in a Prison!
From Prison to Employment: A 3-Step Pathway