Housing procurement consortium Procure Plus has been awarded a five-year contract to help ex-offenders access employment and training.
The not-for-profit organisation, which buys goods and services for several housing associations in the North West of England, will place 24 ex-offenders into employment, apprenticeships or training with contractors in its supply chain every year.
The contract was awarded by the National Offender Management Service Co-Financing Organisation (NOMS CFO), via Achieve North West Connect, as part of work to reduce reoffending.
The contract is being funded by the European Social Fund, which is providing £18m to promote economic development in the North West.
Procure Plus started working with NOMS CFO in 2010 and has helped 257 people enter employment via its job brokering role with its contractors and supply chain, which include firms involved in social housing, refurbishment, responsive repairs and building merchants.
Around 85% of participants retained their roles for at least six months and most achieved a recognised qualification of at least NVQ Level 2 or equivalent.
Almost 600 people have been helped by attending mock interviews, receiving mentoring and feedback to help improve their interview technique, while nearly 500 were interviewed by employers on the Procure Plus contractor framework.
Ann-Marie English, senior regeneration manager at Procure Plus, said: “What’s different about our approach is a focus on the long term, via sustained career opportunities and support. We look forward to working with NOMS for a further five years to help ex-offenders remove barriers to employment and break the potential re-offending cycle.
“It’s not just NOMS either, we do a lot of social value work. By end of this financial year, we will have helped 340 people into employment opportunities. Some will be apprenticeships, some part time, some full employment.”
English added that Procure Plus was now looking at other types of employment opportunities outside its immediate network, within warehousing, hospitality and catering.