HACRO - BBO Strive
HACRO - BBO Strive
Ex-offender success stories: Derek Jones from prison to entrepreneur

BBO Project Strive (Building Better Opportunities - Support and Transition Routes into Volunteering and Employment)

Project Strive deals with the barriers that stop disadvantaged adults getting into work and HACRO supports those participants who have criminal records.

The Programme:

HACRO has been part of the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project since October 2016. Jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund, BBO is managed by Herts County Council. Each participant’s issues are different, and there may be a number of problems to solve just getting signed on to benefits: getting a birth certificate; sorting out a National Insurance number; finding a correspondence address and getting a phone number so that they can be contacted. The programme works with participants to ensure they know how to get a place to sleep, how to get up in time, how to work in a team, what an employer might expect, how to deal with disclosure of convictions. It’s a long list, and some participants have multiple or even all of these issues to resolve.

As they progress, participants are encouraged to volunteer for work projects, building garden furniture, clearing ground, basic construction. Taster sessions in plumbing and tiling, run by a local business give a glimpse of what skilled work involves. 


To help ex-offenders:

  • overcome barriers and get ready to work
  • get into work, with better wellbeing and health
  • gain financial stability, reducing dependence on benefits.


Many Project Strive participants are prolific offenders, often with substance abuse problems. Just over half of the 2019-20 sign-ups (29) have never had a job. Research shows that having good employment prospects or being in a job reduces the risk of reoffending, yet many find it hard to make their first steps into work.

Our impact – BBO Project Strive:

With a mix of one to one support, training and job taster sessions as well as volunteering activities – and a lot of belief from HACRO’s mentors – much can be achieved. Six participants moved into employment during the year, a further nine went on to some form of education, and four who were previously economically
inactive moved into active job search.

To 2020 Project Strive had supported 115 participants – 49 of them in 2019-20. 



Tony has found me a job working for Watford council doing gardening and training. This has helped me better my life and no one believed me but Tony


I have now got a job doing grounds maintenance and learning new skills. I would like to thank Tony from HACRO and this project for finding me the job and giving me the chance to prove myself for work as I have never had a proper paid job.


This project has kept me busy and out of trouble. When I first met Tony I wasn’t getting out of my flat and he helped me improve my mental health plus meeting new people. I am now able to volunteer at Emmaus on my own. I really enjoyed the plumbing and tiling taster days as I learned a lot. I would like to say thank you to HACRO and the project for changing my life. I’ve not been re-offending since I started the project.