A prison rehabilitation programme has helped create the UK’s first clothing brand designed by young ex-offenders, while also offering them help with professional skills building.
The initiative, which brought together recent prison leavers aged 18 to 27 years old, is the result of a collaboration between social enterprise Inside Out and LinkedIn and aims to tackle the employment barriers faced by many ex-offenders.
Under the initiative, the group of ex-offenders also received training and mentoring as they look to secure long-term work, including technical skills like screen printing and design.
They also gained support in developing business skills including sales and marketing, as well as soft skills – including teamwork and problem-solving.
They were also shown how to build their professional profiles on LinkedIn, and learned about networking and applying for roles.
The need to support ex-offenders in their employment journey is made clear by Cebr data (Centre for Economics and Business Research), which, commissioned by LinkedIn, found that just two in ten ex-offenders are able to find work one year after their release from prison.
The data also shows that the unemployment rate for ex-offenders is 89% six weeks after their release, with further analysis by Cebr on prison leavers from 2020 showing that this only improves to 44% a year after their release.
Inside Out project Founder Greg McKenzie, said: “Unemployment rates for former prisoners are much higher than among the wider population, even ten years after release. But there is a positive correlation between employment and reduced reoffending, which shows the need for proactive policies to ensure more prison leavers are able to access job opportunities and the tools and training they need to succeed. This is what Inside Out is all about.”
Tashan Lane-Pierre, Project Ambassador, Inside Out Project, said: “I started my own clothing line in 2017 before I went to prison. Now that I’m out, I want to learn the business of fashion, and how it’s produced behind the scenes in the hope that I’ll be able to run my own label one day. The skills I’m learning through this project will help me in business and I’m excited to be a part of it. I just want the opportunity to be treated normally and not judged for my past actions.”