Since 2009 Blue Sky has been delivering in the North West through a franchise agreement with Groundwork MSSTT. Adopting the Blue Sky model, the franchise has provided employment for more than 100 ex-offenders within the North West region with 46% progressing into onward employment. In 2013 Blue Sky successfully secured funding from NOMS CFO as part of the Social Enterprise Consortia Building Programme. This European Social Fund (ESF) project aims to build consortia with the capacity to bid for future commissioning opportunities that support ex-offenders and other disadvantaged groups.
Why the North?
Blue Sky’s long-term ambition has always been to have a national reach and this start-up capital funding has enabled us to launch the regional Blue Sky North (BSN) consortium. Our aim is to drive the creation of more jobs for ex-offenders across the region and, crucially, reduce re-offending.
The Blue Sky North consortium was launched with the specific aim of developing a credible, commercially viable and innovative network of social enterprises. This will bring together some of the most experienced professionals from across the region currently engaged in the ex-offender space. The consortium operates across the North West with initial partner members consisting of Blue Sky and the 3 main Groundwork Trusts in the region: MSSTT, Lancashire West & Wigan and Cheshire
Aims & Objectives
As this consortium grows and diversifies the long-term objectives we have for Blue Sky North are:
- To secure new commercial contracts and build successful client relationships through collaboration with the private, public and voluntary sectors
- To create jobs for the region’s most disadvantaged and hardest to reach unemployed groups
- To diversify the employment opportunities we currently offer by expanding our client and product portfolio
- To create a credible business model that has the ability to unlock future funding streams
- To develop a consortium that contributes to future social reform across the NW region – improving neighbourhoods, reducing unemployment and, crucially, reducing re-offending
For organisations that want to support ex-offender rehabilitation knowing where to start can be complex. Blue Sky North is the ideal commercial partner for the following reasons:
- We are a multi award-winning social enterprise with extensive experience in delivering contracts, employing ex-offenders and reducing re-offending
- We manage the end to end process: the contract, recruitment and the employees, minimising HR risk to your company. We would never ask you to take on a risk we are not prepared to take ourselves
- Working collaboratively with us removes the need for you to spend time and resource researching the ex-offender employment arena
- Delivering a quality service has been crucial to our success to date and we would work closely with you to ensure we understand and are able to meet all of your contractual and delivery requirements
- We recruit a workforce tailored to your commercial needs and fund training packages to enable skills development
- By incorporating Blue Sky North into your operational model you meet the requirements of the Social Value Act when bidding for new public sector contract opportunities
“The partnership with Blue Sky helps the Environment Agency improve local environments in ways that also reduce the risk of re offending and improve social inclusion” Gwen Scott, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager
If you would like to know more about employing ex-offenders in your contracts please complete the form below
Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd
“What this project does is help people get normality in their lives – developing the good habits of getting up for a job and showing that they can do it. It helps put a stop to the revolving door of going in and out of prison, helps people better themselves and that should be applauded”
Mary Armstrong, Chair of Irk Valley Residents Association, Collyhurst
“I can’t rate them highly enough. The lads dug out the dead shrubs, tidied the whole area up and made the area look great again. It also made it feel safer because it wasn’t so dark. It was the attitude of the lads that really struck me, always willing to get stuck in – it’s a very worthwhile scheme”
Gary, Blue Sky North employee
Aged 42, Gary had been in and out of prison since he was a teenager after becoming addicted to crack cocaine and heroin. After serving another 10-month sentence for shoplifting last year he applied to work at Blue Sky. Whilst working on the YET project Gary was promoted to supervisor and showed a real commitment to securing a permanent job. It is testament to that hard work that he was taken on full-time by Adactus Housing, one of the project housing trusts. He says:
“Getting this job has changed my prospects entirely. It’s given me confidence, it’s helped me get a CV together and I’ve been able to demonstrate teamwork. I don’t know where I would be without the project”
Paul, Blue Sky North employee (pictured right)
“Blue Sky has given me an opportunity to gain employment that no other employer would have given me. If I had not been working I would have slipped back into my old ways of taking drugs and funding this by committing commercial burglaries. My confidence is beginning to grow because I can hold a job down and support myself.
If I had known about Blue Sky earlier I would not have spent so much time in prison in the past, prisoners feel that there is nothing out there for them so why should they bother going straight”