New Dry Lining Centre enables ex-offenders to bounce back into employment

Bounce Back is celebrating the launch of the first Dry Lining Training Centre to open in a London prison in a unique joint initiative with the construction industry.

Supported by Knauf and Encon working with Be Onsite, Land Securities and Lend Lease the centre responds to the urgent need for trained workers in the sector and demonstrates how the industry can support in-prison training in a sponsored model which will see nearly 100 prisoners a year training to enter the workforce.

The facility offers the inmates of HMP Brixton the opportunity to learn dry lining in a state of the art training space. Land Securities, Lend Lease, Knauf and Encon have worked together to make this opportunity a reality, to meet a genuine need within the industry for trained dry liners. Work will be offered to trainees upon release by the partners along with other organisations.

The specific investment of materials by Knauf and the provision of logistics services by Encon have made the centre possible. “It is amazing what can be done when everyone comes together to make something happen,” said Fran Findlater, CEO of Bounce Back. “The need for skills in the construction industry means that the number of potential employees in prison presents a great opportunity.”

The training will be facilitated by Bounce Back who have been successfully running painting and decorating training courses within the prison for over a year. For Bounce Back this is an exciting progression in line with their objective of effectively training offenders with skills that are relevant for employment upon release – either within their own social enterprise or beyond.

The initiative was sparked as labour market information highlighted skills shortages within the construction industry including dry lining. Land Securities and Lend Lease expressed a desire to address this with Land Securities offering opportunities through its Community Employment Programme, supported by Lend Lease. Val Lowman (Lend Lease) put Bounce Back in touch with their dry lining supply chain partners, Encon and Knauf, and the programme evolved.
Debbie Akehurst, head of corporate responsibility in London at Land Securities, said: “Working with partners such as Bounce Back, Lend Lease and Be Onsite means we can really target those furthest from the job market. We have a fantastic opportunity here to train people to meet industry need and help people reach their own potential.”

The programme is targeted to train 70 participants per academic year and offers those referred whilst in custody the opportunity to participate in the CITB C Skills course in dry lining to Diploma Level 2.

Having gained a construction skills qualification whilst in custody, cohorts are well positioned to enter the construction industry workforce immediately upon release. This is a major step in bridging the gap from prison to employment as Bounce Back are further supported by Lend Lease and Land Securities who approach their supply chains to help broker work placements and create sustainable job opportunities.

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