The Turnaround Project is one of five organisations that have been chosen to take part in the Social Innovation Skills programme, funded by the Building Change Trust and delivered by WorkWest and Enterprise North West.
Turnaround was set up to tackle the high level of re-offending by people who have served time in prison,
It works in partnership with statutory organisations including the Department of Justice, the Prison Service, the Probation Board, and with other voluntary sector organisations whose aims and activities include supporting people who have been through the justice system.
Despite rates of reoffending among people who have a job to go to when they leave prison being much lower than those who do not, research has shown that as few as 27% of people leaving prison go into employment.
Richard Good, Director of the Turnaround Project, said: “Turnaround aims to engage the wider community in supporting people before and after they leave prison, using employment as a means of repairing the rupture that imprisonment has caused, and thereby reducing the likelihood of re-offending.”
The project, based at Hydebank College, aims to secure the transfer of a substantial property which will house enterprises providing employment to people for a period before, and after, they leave prison; and opportunities for people leaving prison to set up their own businesses.
Turnaround is already in discussions about the possibility of replicating its operation of at Magilligan Prison. This would involve repeating the asset transfer process, the model within which employers would be engaged, and the additional support programmes, tailored for the needs of the local prison population.
If successful, the Turnaround Project could become a leader in the field of reducing re-offending, offering consultancy advice to other prisons and prison services across the UK and Ireland, and beyond.
Turnaround will join four other organisations in the Social Innovation Skills Programme.
Work West and Enterprise North West are delivering an intensive training and mentoring programme to equip the organisations with problem solving skills. The teams will then be brought together for a full day Social Innovators Mentoring session to refine and evaluate their ideas, and identify next steps.
Once the programme is completed, all teams can apply for a Social Innovation NI seed fund worth up to £15k to enable them to transform their ideas into reality.