Former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt Hon David Gauke, has become the first patron of Offploy – a Yorkshire-headquartered social enterprise dedicated to helping those with criminal convictions find sustainable work.
Ministry of Justice figures show that, on average, only 17% of former prisoners manage to gain employment within a year of release – but those who do are up to 9 percentage points~ less likely to reoffend*.
David Gauke explained his appointment as patron, saying: “One of my priorities as Justice Secretary was to increase employment opportunities for ex-offenders and I noticed the excellent work that Offploy was doing. Consequently, I was delighted to be asked by Jacob Hill to become a patron, and hope this gives me a chance to provide the support and encouragement Offploy needs, in order to continue such crucial work.
“Attitudes are changing for the better and more and more companies are willing to take on ex-offenders. But there is always more that needs to be done to reassure employers – and their customers – and make the case for the positive benefits of employing those with a criminal record.”
Crucially, 81% of people* believe that businesses employing ex-offenders are making a positive contribution to society. And, when asked what more we can do to help those with convictions to find employment and turn around their lives, David said: “It can be enormously challenging to provide the necessary support to ex-offenders.
“Government departments and private sector employers all have an important role to play, but organisations such as Offploy are vital in this area. Together, more can be done to give ex-offenders the opportunities they need to turn their lives around.
“People may be understandably concerned about whether someone with a criminal record can always be trusted. But many ex-offenders succeed in earning this confidence – to both their benefit and that of society.”
Offploy’s founder, Jacob Hill, added: “The Rt Hon David Gauke’s commitment to reducing reoffending rates and supporting the rehabilitation of those with previous convictions is widely recognised and admired, alongside his progressive approach to the criminal justice system.
“During his time in office, David’s ‘Education and Employment Strategy 2018’ centred around the notion that when an offender enters prison they should be put, immediately, on the path to being prepared for employment on release. It’s this vision and strategic mindset – along with his intention to hold me to account – which was behind the decision to invite him to become Offploy’s first patron.
“We share the same ambition to help those with criminal convictions to secure employment and lead a positive life, while also seeking to shift the mindset of organisations across the UK and encourage them to give ex-offenders what will undoubtedly be a life-changing opportunity.”
Founded by former prisoner Jacob Hill, Offploy seeks to help organisations realise the commercial and societal benefits of ex-offender employment. Since its inception in 2016, the firm has supported over 1,000 former offenders and 50 companies – earning Jacob a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2020.