Employing someone with a criminal record provides a second chance while recruiting an employee who will be grateful for the opportunity. Here we answer some frequently asked questions from employers.
What does the Oswin Project do?
We provide training, mentoring and access to employment to people mainly but not exclusively in the Northeast. The programme is flexible, so we may begin working with someone during their time in prison, they might be referred to us after prison or on release through a partner organisation (e.g. probation or jobcentre+), or they may self-refer (e.g. after finding us online).
We interview all prospective candidates. The key consideration is suitability for work; we would never place someone we didn’t feel was work ready. With this determined, we then look at the individuals’ skills, personality, and aspirations, as well as any other support that may be required (e.g., housing or bank accounts). A personalised development plan is then made. From this point on, our Mentor Manager will provide the person (or “Oswinner”, as we call our clients) with regular mentoring to ensure they have the required support and are progressing satisfactorily. Support continues for as long as required, tapering off gradually as they settles into work.
What offences might an “Oswinner” have committed?
We work with all sorts of people with all sorts of histories of offending. Our main criteria, beyond being work ready, is a clear commitment to cease offending and move on to a better life. For various reasons, we rarely work with those who have been convicted of sexual offences. This would only be considered in exceptional cases, following review by our management team.
What is the success rate?
This is hard to measure. For those who have been successfully placed in work, we estimate that fewer than 5% will go on to re-offend while they remain with the Oswin Project. We have recently set up a robust data collection system. However, it will be some time before we have sufficient information to provide more exact outcomes.
What ongoing support is provided?
We appreciate that a prospective employer may have some concerns about employing someone with a criminal record. Our aim is to make the process as easy as possible. We continue to support both employer and Oswinner for as long as is required.
In the early stages
- Regular contact with the employer (either in person, over the telephone, or via email – based on their preference), to check how the placement is progressing and address any concerns.
- Regular contact with the Oswinner to provide mentoring to make sure they thrive and are an asset as an employee.
- Available weekdays via telephone or email to provide support or advice as required.
- Once the employer, Oswinner, and Oswin Project are happy that an Oswinner is settled and working well, our involvement will gradually taper off (but we are always interested to hear how things are going).
- This is not the end of support. Any problems, we can be contacted to support the employer or Oswinner as required.