North East Businesses’ Pull Together with pioneering Work Skills programme

06 May 2013

15 young men at Deerbolt Young Offenders Institute get the Chance For Change

A unique event is taking place today to celebrate the completion of a pioneering programme aimed at helping young men at HMYOI Deerbolt to develop skills for work and life prior to their release.

Fifteen young men in custody have taken part in ‘Chance For Change’, a programme which has been led by fourteen North East based businesses, conceived and co-ordinated by Esh Group, over the last 16 weeks.

In preparation for their re-entry into society, the young men have been involved in weekly workshops in the prison each led by managers from the partner organisations and have been tasked with project work and planning in between each session.

The workshops have focussed on:
- skills, attitudes and behaviours which are important in the workplace
- personal issues such as managing finances and living independently and
- overall personal responsibility such as citizenship and community living.

In between workshop sessions the young men taking part have worked on their own personal employability portfolio and completed work against a schedule of checkpoints, such as preparing their CVs, practising completing job application forms, preparing for interviews and completing projects.

Towards the end of the programme all those taking part practiced their interview techniques by taking part in mock interviews with the businesses involved.

An important feature of the ‘Chance For Change’ programme is the opportunity for some of the young men involved to be Released on Temporary Licence (ROTL). This has made it possible for them to go out of the prison on work experience.

The businesses leading the scheme are:

# Alex Smiles Limited
# Barclays
# Carillion
# Esh Group
# Fabrick Housing Group
# Gentoo
# Greggs
# HR Resolutions
# livin
# Newcastle United Foundation
# Northumbrian Water
# Teesdale Housing (Endeavour Housing Association)
# Tristar Homes (Vela Housing Group)
# Zodiac Training

Esh Group is co-ordinating the programme having run a pilot programme in 2012 as a result of Brian Manning, Chief Executive of Esh Group, visiting HMYOI Deerbolt as part of a Business in the Community ‘Seeing is Believing’ visit. Brian Manning explained:

“We were told that, currently, 79% of young offenders return to prison within one year of their release; that’s a shocking statistic. We were also told that the annual cost of reoffending is estimated at between £9 and 13 billion. That’s a tragic waste – in every respect. It’s a waste of money and it’s a waste of human potential. Everyone in this country has the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society and to feel good doing it - young offenders included.

“So all we’re trying to do here is to help the Prison Service to link up with that opportunity. Everyone involved in Chance For Change is a team player – we all believe that together we can make a real difference the lives and the contributions to society of these young men and that’s the most important message from today.”

Explaining the reason for Fabrick Housing Group’s involvement, Heather Ashton, Director of Finance and Corporate Services for the group, said:

“One of our priorities as a business is about investing in neighbourhoods and ensuring communities are sustainable and this was a great opportunity to work with the men around citizenship, including the effects of anti-social behaviour and creating safe neighbourhoods.

“We really hope that working in partnership with other organisations makes a positive difference and equips the men for their futures.”

Kevin Stout, who works in Northumbrian Water’s metering team and who has a wealth of experience working with young people outside of his normal ‘day job’, said:

“I took the opportunity to take part in the ′Chance For Change′ initiative as part of Northumbrian Water′s employee volunteering scheme, ′Just an hour′, which enables me to give at least 15 hours of paid, work-time back to the community. I ran a workshop on leadership, communication and team working and was pleased with the enthusiastic participation of the young men. As well as having discussion and debates around the workshop topics, we also did a range of physical team-building exercises which the lads really seemed to enjoy and learn from.

“I am proud that my company has had a part in helping to encourage these young men to focus on what their next steps are going to be, on release from prison, and on building a positive future for themselves.”

Kay Glew, Head of Housing Services for Tristar Homes part of the Vela Group said:

“At Tristar we are constantly trying to assist people regarding employability, giving tools and advice to help achieve their goals.

“It was a great opportunity to share our expertise on how to apply for rehousing, giving valuable skills which will help with future successful tenancies.”

Libby Sugden, Director of local HR consultancy firm, HR Resolutions Ltd said:

“As a magistrate for many years I saw at first hand the impact unemployment had not only on the individual, but also on their family and wider society. Securing sustainable employment is literally a ‘chance for change,’ bringing with it realisation that work is actually good for you!’ I am deeply committed to giving these young men a help up as they get back on track and was delighted to see how responsive they were to our discussions around job retention. Every one of them is employable and they should not forget that.”

Caroline Gitsham, Director of Gentoo Living continued:
“The Chance 4 Change programme will give offenders the chance to turn their lives around. At Gentoo we aim to improve the Art of Living and we deliver a wide range of programmes for people from different backgrounds.
“We support this programme because we feel that it is the right thing to do, and because reducing reoffending will help to strengthen and protect communities. Keeping our communities safe and helping offenders turn their lives around go hand in hand which is why we wanted to get involved to help those involved improve their life choices.”

21 year old Gavin was nearing the end of his sentence for burglary when he was offered a ROTL placement by livin one of the partner organisations which is involved in homes and community organisation.

Alan Boddy, Executive Director People and Communities for livin explaining the reason for their involvement:
“We are committed to making our communities sustainable and giving young offenders a chance to change offers them an opportunity for a brighter future.

“The Chance for Change programme is enabling employers to change their perceptions of young offenders and in turn is helping to improve the aspirations of young people by supporting them into employment.”

Having successfully completed the workshops whilst serving at HMYOI Deerbolt Prison Gavin was granted Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) for employment in the community and joined livin’s repairs and maintenance team with Mears, carrying out improvements to empty properties.

Speaking about gaining work experience while on release Gavin, said;
“I’ve done different courses in prison but coming out and working for real has really boosted my confidence and given me proper ‘on-the-job’ skills.

“I feel I’ve got a choice now which I didn’t before. This offence was my first and will definitely be my last. I’m really focused now and my goal is to go volunteering after my release and eventually start a career in joinery.”

Staff at HMYOI Deerbolt have clearly been delighted with the programme and its potential outcomes. Dr Sheena Maberly MBE, Cluster Head of Learning, Skills & Employment, NOMS North East said;
“I am delighted that the second C4C programme is now underway at HMYOI Deerbolt and am grateful to all our employer partners for their support. The value of a programme of this nature to our prisoners is immense. It helps equip them with a range of relevant skills and knowledge and also, crucially, encourages them to have realistic but positive aspirations with respect to future employment. The programme also contributes hugely to creating a generally positive atmosphere throughout the prison and is an example of the best kind of pro-social modelling we can aim to achieve.”

Andrew Dickens, Custodial Manager of Activities, HMYOI Deerbolt went on;
“What I have noticed with the prisoners that are involved is how well they interact with the businesses that visit the establishment. This in itself is refreshing to see and showing a genuine interest in the help and support the businesses are bringing to each one of them.

“Giving prisoners guidance and understanding of what different lives they could lead by moving away from "crime" is a massive part of reducing reoffending. All the businesses involved have brought something different to the table enabling prisoners to build into their thought process how offending does not have to be part of their future.

“My main goal is to have prisoners attending "real life" work environments whilst still in custody, ROTL, giving them work ethic, skills and an understanding of a full working day. This is invaluable in the preparation for release which many have not experienced. This is what the C4C is providing and it will make a difference to their future.”

The Chance 4 Change programme has been fully supported by HMYOI Deerbolt, Manchester College, Bunsiness in the Community, Pertemps and the Skills Funding Agency.

This release has been distributed from co-ordinators, Esh Group via Karen Humble 07976 841123



Esh Group - Karen Humble - 07976 841123 -

Fabrick Housing Group - Helen Sturdy -

Gentoo - Laura McKinlay - 07525 905 325 -

HR Resolutions - Libby Sugden - 07967 200603 / 02380 267700

Livin - Lauren Thompson - 0845 505 5500 -

Northumbrian Water - Cara Charlton - 0191 301 6720 / 07764 926 728

Tristar Homes (Vela Housing Group) - Mandy Peacock - 0300 111 1000

Ingeus (previously Zodiac Training) - Christopher Green -  



Her Majesties Young Offenders Institute Deerbolt (Deerbolt) is a Catagory C young offender Institution housing prisoners aged between 18 and 21. The prison opened in 1973 on the site of a former military camp and was originally a borstal, it subsequently became a youth custody centre and is currently a young offender institution for male prisoners.

Deerbolt makes up one third of prisons on the North East’s Southern Cluster, the other two establishments being HMP Holmehouse in Stockton (Adult Male, Cat B) and Kirklevington Grange Open Prison in Yarm (Adult Male, Cat C).

In 2011/12 Deerbolt’s allocated budget was £13.9m, this excluded costs related to education and healthcare.

# Maximum sentence length is currently up to 6 years.
# Maximum population at any one time is 513; all aged between 18-21 yrs
# Population at the time of this report was 449.
# Deerbolt has received 960 prisoners since the start of 2013.
# The average length of stay is 19 weeks however length of stay can be from 6 weeks to 6 years.
# 44% of prisoners are aged 18-19
# All prisoners are expected to have the potential to enter training/employment on release
# In March 2013 97.3% prisoners were released to settled accommodation (88% target), 20.0% prisoners were released into Education & Training (15% target) and 19.1% prisoners were released into Employment (13% target).


ROTL provides an opportunity for members of the cohort to leave the prison to visit a workplace or receive essential training not delivered within the prison (e.g. CSCS test), while accompanied by a member of prison staff. All offenders were subject to profiling and risk assessment prior to selection for possible ROTL.


Criminal behaviour is most likely to occur between the ages of 14 and 18. The peak age of offending is 19

73% of young offenders who leave custody re-offend within a year. In youth custody, 3 out of 4 are reconvicted within a year of finishing their sentence

The youth justice system tends to recycle ‘the usual suspects’, especially the children and young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
A recent survey among offenders found that 97% would like to stop offending and that 68% reported that the biggest factor in assisting this would be a job.

Public attitudes to offenders in Britain are among the most punitive in Europe

Young adults commit around one-third of all crime and represent one-third of those sentenced to prison each year.

Annual cost of youth detention/detainee is £69k; three times the annual cost of fees of a top independent school.

Young offenders held in custody most often say that finding employment would be the change they need to stop committing crime. Yet the current system for keeping and making employers aware of criminal records acts as a drag in the wrong direction, making it less likely that young people can obtain stable work opportunities.
65% Employers who exclude ex offenders from applications
+92.3% Prisoner increase since 1993
47% Male prisoners who have no qualifications
13% have never had a job
49% Number of male prisoners excluded from school as a child
1994 Last time prisons were deemed to have a ‘safe number of offenders’
13% Prisoners who have children in care as a result of their offence
33% Prisoners who will have nowhere to live once released
£13 Billion Total cost to tax payer each year including police, courts, probation costs etc.

Early preventive interventions in the lives of children with behaviour problems can bring about immediate improvements and reduce the risks of later involvement in persistent and serious offending.

Three things most likely to prevent young people form re-offending are a proper home, a job and stable relationships

There has been an encouraging reduction in the number of young people in custody over the past 12 months

A significant percentage of young people who commit crime have also been victims, especially of assault and theft from the person

Young Offender Institutions house 87% of children and young people in custody

A quarter of young men in custody are parents

Around a quarter of prisoners were in care as a child

It is believed large sums of public money are currently wasted across England and Wales because:
# Investments in proven preventative measures and constructive sanctions is too low
# Children and young people who could be turned away from a life of crime are not receiving timely help and support
# Those involvements in persistent and serious offending are often treated in ways that do little to prevent offending- and may make their criminal behaviours worse.

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