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Competition helps ex-offenders secure employment

Published 25th July, 2011 by Neil Nixon

Competition helps ex-offenders secure employment

An awards ceremony has taken place to mark the achievements of prisoners who took part in a national cleaning skills competition, the Team Clean Challenge. The event, now in its fourth year, is run by Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for cleaning. It aims to demonstrate the high quality training that takes place in prisons as part of preparing offenders with work skills to help their rehabilitation on release.

Richard Beamish, chief executive of Asset Skills, said: “This contest has been extremely successful in promoting jobs in cleaning to prisoners. There are now 50 ex-offenders working in the cleaning industry as a result of the competition. Getting a job is a key factor in helping ex-prisoners settle back into society and in cutting reoffending rates. It helps save the UK taxpayer millions each year.”

Despite the economic downturn, there is still a shortage of cleaners and more employers are recognising the benefits of hiring a well- trained ex-offender, who will have been vetted and sees the job as a chance to start a new life. There are clear career paths in cleaning and it can offer a rewarding and worthwhile job.

The Team Clean Challenge is an opportunity for offenders to show the skills they have acquired through their training in prison and meet employers who may be able to help them find work on their release. The competition also operates an ‘open strand’ in which cleaning companies across the UK enter teams of their staff. The skills competition seeks to raise the profile of cleaning and instil pride in those who do such an essential job.

The 2011 awards ceremony to mark the participants’ achievements took place at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham on 22 June. The prisons challenge ran in several categories. Winners included: HMP Erlestoke for Best Prison; HMP Feltham for Best Young Offenders Institute; Christopher Burgan, HMP Hewell, for Best Supervisor; and Mike Linker from HMP Erlestoke for Best Operative.

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