Gateway to Employment is a joint initiative between the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk and the Department of Work and Pensions.  This exciting and ground-breaking initiative is aiming to break down barriers to employment for people with criminal convictions.

Many employers have a skills shortage and would benefit from an increased pool of suitable candidates from which to recruit. Unfilled vacancies can have an economic impact on any business and increase pressure on other employees attempting to make up the resourcing short fall.

Not only can employers provide skills and hope for people with convictions, they are also able to help to break the cycle of offending and offer the tools needed to secure a job for the future.  In return they will get a wealth of ability, loyalty and a hard working person with experience.

We need employers to support this campaign, by offering up jobs, apprenticeships, work experience, trainee-ships and support sector based academies for people with convictions.

One employer who has pledged to support this exciting initiative is Norse Commercial Services Ltd/ Norse Care Ltd and Sam Delcoure, Norse’s recruitment manager outlines their reason for supporting Gateway to Employment and partnership working:

As Recruitment Manager for Norse, I am always looking at new ways to recruit staff with the right attitude to work as it can be difficult to identify the values of an individual from a CV or application form. With this in mind, I launched our Employment Opportunities Programme which offers a 6 week work placement to applicants who may find it challenging to gain employment due to their background or other barriers. During the 6 weeks the individual will be conducting their placement in a vacancy that has been held for them; if they demonstrate the right attitude and work ethic during this process, they will move into paid employment.

Following an employer visit to both Norwich and Wayland prison arranged by Vicky Day, OPCCN, it became clear that there were a number of people in our prison system who had learned very valuable lessons from their past mistakes and were now seeking an opportunity to turn their life around; I wanted to help. Vicky introduced me to Mary Scales of DWP and together with her team, Mary set to work finding suitable people for our programme, this included ex-offenders and troubled families.

I had reserved 6 placements and received 16 applications so myself and a colleague conducted interviews to shortlist our 6. It became clear very quickly that this was going to be a tough job; the majority of people we met had a fantastic attitude so not only did we shortlist our 6, we managed to create an additional 2 placements. Everyone is doing very well – we conduct reviews to check on progress and our managers have been very impressed with the quality of work and attitude so far. One of our placements, a young man who had been in prison but was keen to turn his life around, has done so well that his manager insisted on moving him into a paid position early. He was able to demonstrate good timekeeping, excellent team working and quick learning, gaining valuable skills and knowledge throughout the process, he has proved to be a valuable addition to the team.

Samantha Delcoure, Recruitment Manager, Norse Commercial Services Ltd/Norse Care Ltd

There are 10 million people in the UK with a criminal record. Gateway to Employment has been established to support people with criminal convictions into the workplace.

Will you help us make a difference?  Find out how you as an employer could benefit from supporting GtoE, visit our website on www.gtoe.co.uk or email Cathy Whittaker on Catherine.Whittaker@norfolk.pnn.police.uk.