Gary Elsey, Chief Operations Officer at furnishings specialist David Phillips Group knows better than most the vital link between the employment of ex-offenders and the reduction in reoffending. As an ex-prison governor, previously working in prisons across the UK for 23 years, he understands just how many talented and hard working people are struggling to be given a second chance after falling foul of the law.
So when carpet fitter Joe Clue was put forward by the Reducing Reoffending Partnership (RRP) for a vacancy at David Phillips, Gary knew that the enthusiastic 21 year-old was perfect for the job.
"Joe came across as a committed and customer-focussed young worker, determined to make a better life for himself and his family," said Gary.
"Our employees visit commercial and residential properties all over the country and so are all rigorously checked. I have an ever greater level of confidence in Joe, knowing that his background has been further vetted by the various authorities he's been involved with. We pride ourselves on having a diverse workforce, representative of the communities in which we operate and giving ex-offenders like Joe a second chance in life is absolutely the right thing to do."
The David Phillips Group is the UK's largest furnishing and specialist services provider, working with property professionals nationwide. It is also listed in CityAM's Leap 100 list of the most exciting, fast-growing companies to look out.
According to Gary: "With our plans to treble in size over the next 18 months, Joe will hopefully be the first of many talented people recruited through the Reducing Reoffending Partnership."
Joe, from Great Barr in Birmingham, had troubled teenage years and was given a 12 month suspended sentence and probation order for a driving offence in November 2016. Worried that his employment prospects were bleak and with a young son to support, Joe's confidence and mood hit rock bottom.
After working with probation practitioner Catherine Bott from the Staffordshire & West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) to consider what led to his offences and after seeking help for his depression, Joe was referred to Education, Training and Employment advisor Sarah Senior at the Reducing Reoffending Partnership in West Bromwich.
"I was given help with my CV and interview technique and applied just in time for the David Phillips role. It must have been fate, the next day I had an interview with Gary and got the job. It was such an amazing feeling.
"Now I'm fitting carpets all over the UK, I'm earning money, keeping busy and gaining a real sense of achievement. My life is falling back into place since getting this job and I'm proud to be giving a better life to my partner and baby son."
Sarah and Catherine still monitor Joe's progress as he settles into work and completes his probation.
The Reducing Reoffending Partnership is a joint venture by Ingeus, St Giles Trust, and CGL, which provides offender rehabilitation services to the Staffordshire & West Midlands CRC and Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire & Rutland CRC.
Staffordshire & West Midlands CRC provides probation services for around 13,000 low and medium risk offenders, utilising Ingeus's employability expertise to deliver education, training and employment opportunities.