HACRO and its partners are running a pilot project to check the WorkAbility concept and its outcomes. The pilot is based at Emmaus St Albans and the course is being delivered by tutors from the WEA.

Susan Pope, Area Education Manager for the WEA commented, “The WEA are proud to be working with HACRO and Emmaus and together we have a special mission to raise aspirations and develop educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged. The project is aimed at improving health and wellbeing and work for ex-offenders, also to broaden horizons and local community engagement activities that encourage active citizenship.”

There are three 8 week modules (of which one is for women) including both life skills and vocational training. “Life skills” include, confidence building, working as part of a team, understanding what employers expect of employees, knowing how to put a CV together and having the computer skills to do it and apply for a job online. There is also specific vocational training. Initially food hygiene and kitchen skills. Later we will look to develop training in areas like, painting and decorating, cleaning, garden maintenance, practical horticulture and cycle maintenance. Completion of the course will be marked with a certificate and trainees will then be invited to move on to work experience with selected Hertfordshire firms, leading to the opportunity of employment.

Who’s Eligible?

Initially we will be working only with offenders on stand-alone unpaid work requirements. That keeps things simple. People will be referred on to the course and risk assessed by BeNCH CRC.

Further pilots will probably be needed to accommodate the needs and challenges of offenders on different types of order. If the pilot progresses to a bigger project, then other groups of offenders will be included and systems developed to deal with their needs.

Work for ex-offenders, will it work?

We are very pleased that The University of Hertfordshire, Department of Law, will be involved in evaluating WorkAbility and work for ex-offenders, UH will conduct interviews and evaluate the results with academic rigor. We will use their findings to support future bids for funding the development and roll out of the programme across the county. Dr Anna Tippett, Lecturer in Criminology at The University of Hertfordshire Law School said, “The WorkAbility Project offers a promising opportunity for ex-offenders to secure employment and, in turn, aids rehabilitation through its mission to reduce re-offending rates through securing work placements. The project’s aim to establish links with business and the wider community provides a workable model which will benefit employers, ex-offenders and their families, and society as a whole.”