The brainchild of 23-year-old Brighouse businessman Jacob Hill, Offploy is a social enterprise which hopes to increase organisational awareness of the commercial and social benefits of ex-offender employment.
Offploy offers candidates a pathway to companies, managing the entire recruitment process.
However, the business is one that is close to Jacob’s heart, after finding himself in a difficult situation in 2014.
Faced with debt that he couldn’t pay, the young Jacob made the regretful mistake of selling drugs at a music festival. Despite no prior criminal convictions and his significant level of remorse, he went on to serve 294 days of a 28 month prison sentence.
It was during this time that the idea came to Jacob, while working as a St. Giles Trust peer adviser, supporting ex-offenders with their professional development and progress into employment.
“The rehabilitation revolution has been debated at parliamentary level for some time,” he said. “But the level of stigma surrounding ex-offender employment still prevents many businesses from getting on board. We’re here to make sure it happens.”
With 760,000 job vacancies currently unfilled in the UK according to information from the Department of Work and Pensions, Jacob believes that the answer lies partly in ex-offender employment.
“A vast talent pool is currently untapped because of organisations’ reluctance to hire ex-offenders,” he said.
“We’re here to help businesses tackle their recruitment challenges at the same time as addressing a wider societal issue.”
The firm is now speaking to a number of large organisations about their ex-offender employment strategies, with sectors from food manufacturing to healthcare showing interest.
Having already received grant funding and support from charity UnLtd and a private investment from Hull businessman Nigel Stabler, the future looks bright from Offploy.
Jacob said: “I’m pleased to see people are talking about ex-offender employment. Yes there are barriers to break down among business owners and their existing staff. But these obstacles can be overcome.
“The encouraging thing is that people are exploring what they need to do and the likely benefits they’ll experience as a result.”
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