Richard Branson helps ex-offenders get back on track
In light of the annual crime figures released today by the Office for National Statistics, Virgin Trains has launched a toolkit for businesses which offers practical advice on hiring ex-offenders.
The train company, which is part-owned by Richard Branson, is calling for more businesses to follow their example and employ people with previous convictions. In the past 3 years, Virgin Trains on the west coast has hired 30 ex-offenders of which 25 still work for the company in roles across the business. Employment has shown to significantly decrease the risk of recidivism. Not a single ex-offender employee or candidate in the talent pool at Virgin Trains has re-offended and the company is looking to hire more.
Richard Branson, Virgin Founder who has been championing the hiring of people with convictions for the past few years, commented: “I’m delighted that Virgin Trains has taken on the challenge of hiring ex-offenders so successfully. It was great to meet one of our employees from the scheme, Tammy, and see how well she is getting on in her role. Business must become a stronger advocate for rehabilitation. It makes perfect sense, as it increases the talent pool, reduces reoffending, nurtures entrepreneurial spirit, and contributes to safer communities. Ex-prisoners should have the chance to learn from the mistakes of their past, not be damned by them.”
The Virgin Trains toolkit covers the company’s experiences from when it initially set up the programme three years ago, to the present day policy. It offers advice and tips to those considering adopting a similar policy and offers insight on what hiring ex-offenders can offer all levels of the business – from shareholders and managing directors through to HR departments and the ex-offenders themselves.
Some tips include:
- How to provide ex-offenders the fresh start while protecting your business from risk
- How to best work with partners and prisons
- The practicalities of running a recruitment day
Tammy Moreton, 23, from Birmingham is now working for Virgin Trains on the other side of the law as a Revenue Protection Inspector after spending two years in and out of prison. As an apprentice, Tammy is training staff on ticket scanning machines, cracking down on fare-dodgers and getting qualifications along the way. Without her apprenticeship at Virgin Trains, Tammy believes she would have struggled to stay out of prison with half the crimes in the UK being committed by previous offenders.
Tammy said: “I thought I would spend my life in and out of prison. But bit by bit I decided to take matters into my own hands and turn my life around. I was incredibly proud when I was offered the apprenticeship at Virgin Trains and another chance at life. Since being employed, my life has really changed; I’m now mentoring other ex-offenders to find employment too. I am determined to put my past behind me and embrace this new future. ”
Kathryn Wildman, Lead Recruiter for Virgin Trains on the west coast said: “We are so pleased to be able to share what we’ve learnt from setting up our ex-offenders programme. Our experience has been an entirely positive one and we are proud to be hiring ex-offenders because we want to get the best candidates, no matter what their background is. We’re looking forward to further expanding our programme to hire more.”