UK prison entrepreneurship programme gets the go-ahead

The Centre for Entrepreneurs has secured funding from the Ministry of Justice to train prisoners with enterprise skills. The first-of-its-kind scheme will trial at HMP Ranby, Nottinghamshire...

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UK prisoners are to get training to become entrepreneurs in the first ever programme of its kind, led by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CfE).

Following a report by the CfE in June which argued that entrepreneurship programmes for pre-release prisoners could save the government £1bn annually, the Ministry of Justice has given its backing for the CfE to deliver a pilot programme for prisoners at HMP Ranby in Nottinghamshire.

The 12 week programme – set to be delivered in partnership with local enterprise agency NBV Enterprise Solutions – will select a group of prisoners to start businesses that will support them financially after their release and prevent them from re-offending.

This support will involve sessions with a NBV business coach and advice from business experts such as Phil Ashford of Enterprise Exchange and Young Gun Duane Jackson; an ex-offender who went on to create successful business Kashflow and, more recently, Supdate.

A local business advisory group, including business support organisations and service companies, will also be brought together to offer in-kind or reduced price support for both participants in prison and on release.

After their release, the group of enterprising prisoners will then be supported with advice, equipment or collateral to launch and grow their businesses.

Upon completion, the CfE has indicated that the programme will be “comprehensively evaluated to determine its impact on prisoner outcomes”.

HMP Ranby has been designated as one of the government’s six reform prisons so, should the programme be a success, it’s likely that the Ministry of Justice will fund the roll-out with the results of the first programmed used to inform the establishment of other prisoner entrepreneurship programmes.

CfE director, Matt Smith, said of the news: “We are delighted to be signing the prison entrepreneurship programme contract with the Ministry of Justice and look forward to working with NBV Enterprise Solutions to deliver the project in HMP Ranby.”

Chairman Luke Johnson added:

“The widespread uptake of prison entrepreneurship programmes will help reduce recidivism across the UK – potentially saving the government billions every year.

“Not every prisoner is necessarily a born entrepreneur. But among those that are interested and capable of working for themselves, ensuring they get the support they need is a sure route to reducing reoffending.”

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