Imagine what it would be like to come out of prison with no job to go to and a criminal record to overcome. What if you had never even had a job before? How would you ever get one? Who would employ you? It is not surprising that despite their best intentions, more than 50% of prisoners will reoffend.
It doesn't have to be like that! Most ex-offenders want to work and statistics show that having a job reduces the risk of reoffending by half. We want to help people in prison be better prepared to join the workforce and have designed Grow to do that. Grow is a Social Enterprise that will give people the opportunity to get qualifications and work experience in a real business environment, whilst in prison. We will grow organic produce to sell to local restaurants and at Farmers Markets to cover our costs.
We already have invitations to begin work in eight UK prisons. Early in 2016 we will begin with the first two of those, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and in Woolwich.
What will we achieve?
- At least 24 people in each prison will get NVQs in horticulture, retailing and business studies, every year.
- More importantly, they will get hands-on experience of working in a `real life' work environment, which will help them understand what will be required of them in the outside world.
- We aim to have 90% of our trainees in full-time employment within 6 months of leaving prison. We will liase with potential employers, so that they are more confident in offering employment to suitable candidates.
- Each trainee will be linked with a mentor who will support them for two years after release.
- They will gain a multitude of transferable skills including problem-solving, conflict-resolution, and communication.
- As well as work skills, we will focus on developing character and values.
And its not just the prisoners who will benefit! Local people will be able to enjoy our organically-grown produce, knowing that they are helping people prepare to lead better lives in future. Furthermore, we will be saving the tax-payer 90K a year in the costs of crime, for every person who does not reoffend.
What will we use the money for?
We have devised a growing-plan which will enable us to cover our costs once production is up to speed. We just have to raise the start-up funds. In this campaign we are focusing on our 1st prison, on the Isle of Sheppey. We need to raise 20K for all the tools & equipment and first six months salary for the full-time project manager/tutor. The fact that it is an Open Prison has many advantages, but one huge disadvantage - the lack of a prison fence means the rabbits are free to come in! So first job is to construct a rabbit fence. The site used to be a flourishing kitchen garden, but budget cuts mean that it has not been used for a few years. We are bringing life back to this wasted resource! There are polytunnel frames that need covers & we need the materials to package and sell what we grow. If you would like more details, please ask. We know that 20K sounds like a lot of money, but don't forget that once we are up and running we will be able to support ourselves. If we help just 20 people ever, to keep out of trouble, that saves the taxpayer £1.75 million. But we plan to help 20 new people every year get their lives on track! Please don't be daunted by the final figure needed, as every £1 you give will make a difference. We are also applying for grants and talking to corporate donors, but decided to crowdfund for our first prison so that more people would get to hear about the project & have the chance to be involved.
Why support us?
- We are pioneering a new approach to prisoner training that not only benefits the prisoners, but will not be paid for from our taxes!
- You will be helping people like Charlie lead purposeful, constructive lives and to find their place in society, instead of returning to prison.
- We will be supplying local people with local, organically-grown produce.
- We are breaking down barriers between `inside and outside'.
- Your gift is actually an investment in a better future for all of us. Reduced reoffending = better society.
- We will keep you informed, via newsletters & website, about how your money is being spent & you will have the opportunity to come & visit.
Thank you for your support.