Sodexo, Ocado & Hubbub colaborate on working prisons sustainable and rehabilitation project
This post was created by Mike Conway, Operations Director (Custody) for Sodexo Justice Services
I’m often asked what Quality of Life means to Justice Services and for me one of the best examples is our Working Prisons initiative at HMP Northumberland – our commitment to help prisoners change their lives for the better by providing them with meaningful activity while they serve their sentences and the skills to improve their chances of employment when they leave.
Sodexo took over the contract for HMP Northumberland exactly two years ago today (1 December) and since that time our prisoners have worked on a range of projects for a range of different clients, producing everything from textiles to fresh fruit and vegetables.
Most recently we have been working in partnership with online retailer Ocado and social enterprise charity Hubbub to repurpose disused Ocado uniforms. Our prisoners have been working on transforming old uniforms into aprons and tote bags which Ocado will sell for charity.
Not only does the partnership help raise funds for worthwhile causes, it also stops these uniforms heading to landfill. With over 15,000 tonnes of corporate uniforms being sent to landfill or incineration every year, it’s a project with significant environmental benefits, enabling our prisoners to contribute something positive to their communities.
But while the environmental and ethical credentials of projects like this are impressive, it’s the opportunity that work such as this contributes to reducing re-offending that is perhaps the most important aspect for Justice Services.
Studies show that prisoners who are able to find sustainable employment when they leave prison are 50% less likely to be re-convicted than those who haven’t. By giving our prisoners the opportunity to learn marketable skills we can directly reduce the likelihood that they will return to the prison system. That goes to the very heart of what we stand for in Justice Services – giving people the opportunity to change and the skills to equip them to live positive, crime free lives.
Our Working Prisons Initiative also prepares prisoners for the real world of work, emphasising the importance of producing high quality goods on time and on budget. Sodexo clients expect and de-serve the very best and we’re committed to ensuring that our prison workshops also meet these exacting standards.
It’s an approach that benefits everyone. Our clients know that they will get high quality, professionally made goods, while our prisoners feel even more motivated to deliver an outstanding service knowing that their work has real commercial value in the outside world. Working for real clients delivering real products helps us drive a culture of continuous improvement throughout the workshops and the sense of satisfaction our prisoners get from knowing they have delivered the best directly impacts on their personal growth and ambitions for the future.
Working Prisons gives prisoners a chance to make their time in custody purposeful and productive while developing a range of skills that are highly sought after in the marketplace. It also enables us to generate revenue that we can reinvest back into the prison so that we can support even more people to change their lives for the better. It’s an initiative that exemplifies who we are as a segment and our commitment to Sodexo’s Quality of Life principles and an activity that I look forward to us developing long into the future.