The Recruitment Junction is a non-profit recruitment charity in the Northeast of England, placing people with criminal convictions into paid work, who are joining the NBCS Foundation on its mission as a beneficiary.
The Recruitment Junction’s candidates are firstly the men and women that it meets in custody – with the support of a team of trained prisoner-peer mentors – who the charity then continues to support through the gate into work after release. And secondly, it supports people already living in the community who form part of the 11 million men and women in the UK who have a criminal record, be that because of a custodial sentence or other community sanction. 70% of all people with convictions who engage with The Recruitment Junction will find paid work – the majority of these categorized as “serious offenders” – and it sees 79% in-work retention rates and fewer than 2% of placed candidates re-offending.
The work that the charity does is holistic, long-term, and invariably highly practical, in removing barriers to work. In the case of Jack, he was referred to the charity in 2021, 6 months after his last prison release, having originally served a life sentence for murder. Jack had first left prison ten years prior but had been unable to achieve lasting stability or sustained life change, with 5 recalls to prison in that period. He had been volunteering for 6 months, but hadn’t made much progress regarding paid work, seeming somewhat adrift and without any real plan. This was surprising, in that he was a highly skilled joiner, a very sought-after trade. The assorted barriers to this became apparent: all his trades tool were the other side of the country at his ex-wife’s house, he had lost his right-to-work ID documents and his joinery qualifications, and his site safety legal documents had lapsed whilst in prison. He didn’t have any suitable workwear, and no funds to acquire any of these multiple elements.
From a practical viewpoint, The Recruitment Junction obtained Jack’s birth certificate, booked a resit for his construction site safety card (CSCS), covered a tank of petrol to the Midlands to collect his tools, plus bought him new work-boots, trousers, and waterproofs – all paid for by their charitable hardship fund. Morally, Jack was visibly buoyed up as he could see practical things being put into motion – and much heartened by the visit down country which also allowed him to see his two children – he was “back in the game”. Within the month he was working with a local employer on a Grade II listed building on Newcastle’s quayside. At the end of his first 6-day week, Jack said:
“I’ve earnt more in one week than I got in 2 months on benefits! My little boy wanted a tablet for Christmas, and now I can get him it.”
The first contract ended and in parallel, his mum was in the end stages of cancer. As The Recruitment Junction continued to support and mentor Jack over the weeks that he carried on coming into the offices to pour out his heart, oftentimes in tears, they could see that his mental health was suffering and there was fear for renewed substance abuse that could escalate to another prison recall. In mid-2022, they placed him into permanent work with a recycling firm, and he worked a week until his mother passed away. Somewhat bittersweet, Jack knows she was glad to see him:
“…get my life back together and we spent a lot of time together. She also got to see me start this job and I know she was really proud of me. I’ll make sure I keep making her proud.”
To find out more about this incredible organisation, visit The Recruitment Junction’s website.
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