Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner spoke at the Forging Ahead event on Wednesday, 10 January 2019.

The afternoon workshop was organised by Police Sergeant Pete Spratt from South Yorkshire Police, in conjunction with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, City Hearts About Face Project and Total Training Provision, to discuss the new project.  Forging Ahead seeks to reduce re-offending by working directly with offenders in order to change their lives for the better.

It was held in Sheffield Hallam University – who will be evaluating the project – brought together the partners, the Community Rehabilitation Company, the NHS and representatives of various employer groups.

Dr Billings said: “It is well understood that if offenders are to be successfully rehabilitated, from the day they leave prison they need somewhere to live, some money and, above all, the prospect that they could get a job.

“Many ex-prisoners say they would like to turn their lives around, but once they have a record, employers don’t want to know.”

Participants heard from the heads of Timpson’s Shoes and Virgin Trains about how they had taken on ex-offenders and made it possible for them to escape the life of crime.

They also heard directly from someone who had recently been released after a long sentence, but was being helped to start his own business.

Dr Billings added: “For many job seekers, the understanding of what a CV is and how to write one, what to do in an interview and to prepare and even having something to wear is something many take for granted.

For those leaving the criminal justice system, it can be very daunting.  Forging Ahead aim to educate and train ex-offenders to prepare them for future employment.”

Forging Ahead is looking for prospective businesses that would be interested in getting involved with the programme.  For more information you can contact Sheffield Integrated Offender Management team on [email protected].