January 19, 2015
by Francesca Findlater, CEO, Bounce Back
As a social enterprise as well as a charity, Bounce Back is a painting and decorating business that trains and employs ex-offenders. It is also a great example of an organisation that has flourished due to its social enterprise status.
The entrenched social problems that are endemic when people leave prison are dramatically alleviated when a job is a realistic possibility. With a re-offending rate of under15% in an environment where 60% is the norm, Bounce Back is challenging the perception of the re-offending ‘revolving door’. More than that, it is offering an alternative to the cost of keeping someone in prison.
Being a social enterprise or ‘business’ means we can do more.
We have a natural progression from training into employment within our own organisation, as well as with other employers. In addition our training centre in HMP Brixton provides qualifications before release so we can focus on paid work for people when they leave custody. In addition we are shortly re-opening our community training centre to offer more top up courses and continual training and qualifications.
Over 13,000 additional painters and decorators and 36,400 additional employees overall in the construction sector are required by 2018 to meet the growing demand (CITB Construction Skills Network).
There are over 80,000 people currently in prison. This provides a pool of potential trainee workers that the construction industry is keen to tap into. Providing jobs in construction for people leaving prison has the potential to change the employment landscape dramatically, whilst reducing re-offending and saving government and taxpayers’ money.
Bounce Back’s partnerships with large housing associations, construction companies and corporates have enabled us to drive our message home. Both the need of the industry and also being part of what is often referred to as an exciting, vibrant ‘movement’ helps drive enthusiasm to employ our professional painters and decorators and enforce our message – ‘Give people a job and see them in a different light’.
We also have the advantage of being very easy to use.
In an age where people are now choosing to make a difference through everyday spending and thinking about the organisations they employ to deliver their services, we offer a solution. Investment in corporate responsibility has grown with employers increasing spend in areas they can see will make a genuine change to society. Both these things, enhanced by the growing impact of the Social Value Act, enable us to obtain work and keep an ever growing team of professional ex-offenders employed.
Success doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges. Placing the emphasis on tackling a social problem by re-investing profits into the social cause comes with its own demands. In order to grow to respond to the interest from prisons and organisations nationwide, social investment is an inevitable next step.
The Bounce Back painting and decorating service is, principally, a business.
It strives to deliver to a quality and standard of professionalism that is expected by its clients. As with all social enterprises, it is essential to comply with the tough demands of the construction industry and it has put in place systems to respond to the completion of accreditations and compliances, enabling us to be a sub-contractor which is fundamental to success and growth.
Above all, we strive to change lives. People with the most to prove are often the ones who work the hardest and achieve the most. Giving them an opportunity can often be sound business sense as we have discovered.