Recycling Lives is a Queen’s Award-winning company which is helping some of the most vulnerable people in society work their way back to independent living.
The social business, which was founded by Steve Jackson OBE DL, has developed an innovative rehabilitation programme for offenders, with a target to open new purpose built academies within 10 prisons every year.
Headquartered in Preston, with offices and partners across the region, the firm runs a number of charitable programmes including projects to aid rehabilitation and reduce re-offending by providing offenders with training and employment at recycling centres, which operate within HMP facilities. Offenders are paid for the work, 40% of which goes towards victims’ support funds.
Alasdair Jackson from Recycling Lives, said: “Against the backdrop of the vast reforms which the prison service is undergoing, attention is increasingly turning to how we look after people who have been incarcerated. As a society, we need to evaluate what we can do to make people’s time in prison meaningful, transformative, and valuable, both for the individual offender, but also to society as a whole.”
Re-offending rates in England and Wales are currently 67% within the first year, with many ex-offenders struggling to make the transition back into normal working life. This costs the government around £15bn a year.
He added: “Creating opportunities for people to grow, reform and develop needs to be a wider priority and this is a vital part of what we do at Recycling Lives. We believe that we can release potential in every individual and we want to unlock and nurture that often-dormant possibility.
“We try to give these very vulnerable members of our community a platform to overcome the challenges that they may be facing by equipping them with skills, self-confidence, work experience and qualifications. This helps them end the recurrent cycle of repeat offending and become active members of society.
“With few places available in hostels, some people are released with little more than the clothes they’re wearing and the standard £49 grant – so having valuable skills to fall back on and a community to support them, can be the lifeline that they need to start life in a new direction.”
The Recycling Lives social welfare charity operates a tailored, six-stage process that is designed to help people into employment and independent living. Through a unique mixture of training, support, work experience, the charity helps people to rebuild their lives in safe, constructive environment.
Each stage of the programme lasts around five weeks, and a full review is carried out at the end of each stage covering everything from life in the charity, work placements and personal wellbeing to future goals and aspirations.
Residents get a weekly allowance during their time in the charity, part of which is paid into savings ready for when they move into independent living. And, from Stage Two onwards, residents also have the opportunity to become Resident Representatives, taking on more responsibility in exchange for additional savings.