We recently conducted a survey of our employees. Many thanks to everyone who took part. Below are some inspirational quotes from the responses given:
“Being in work allows people to be released from their past and make a better future.”
“I now know that if I keep my head down and behave myself people are prepared to give me a chance. Not everybody, but some and that is a positive start and it gives me a positive feeling within.”
“Working with Blue Sky has meant meeting new people, keeping me fit, something to look forward to each day, it is nice to see a wage slip, and working for my own money and not relying on JSA.”
“Right now the thing that motivates me is I actually enjoy getting up and working for my money as opposed to stealing it and getting my kicks from other people’s misery. Looking back at my past I must say I much prefer being in the position I am in right now rather than how I was when I was on drugs and heavily into me. I get a better feeling inside having earned my money rather than stealing it.”
Blue Sky was delighted to welcome Stephen Greenalgh, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (pictured below between Blue Sky’s Kate Markey and Steve Finn) on a visit to see one of our ex-offender teams in action in Ealing. The Deputy Mayor was bowled over by Blue Sky’s work and its impact on reducing re-offending. “Such a clear, simple model,” he said. “But so effective…” Stephen, we couldn’t agree more!
At the age of just 24, Nicole Douglas was convicted of a serious drug offence and sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment at HMP Bronzefield. A bright young woman with a Masters in Media and Communication, Nicole’s world came crashing down around her. Though distraught and remorseful, Nicole was quietly determined to the make the most of her time in prison and to re-build her life. A work opportunity in the prison at Blue Sky’s Stitch in Time textiles workshop caught her eye, as she had always had an interest in sewing. She applied and got the job.
As soon as she started working at Stitch in Time, it was clear that Nicole had talent. Though conscientious and ever keen to put her shoulder to the wheel with the rest of the team to fulfil the workshop’s commercial orders, Nicole, given a spare moment, would doodle designs and experiment with bits of left over fabric. When the opportunity came for Stitch in Time to work with designer Sue Bonham for a fashion show at the Old Bailey, Nicole couldn’t wait to be involved. She came up with a design that blew Sue away; Nicole made the dress herself too (pictured below). It took pride of place on the cat walk. “Making that dress and being involved in a fashion show was Cinderella stuff,“ says Nicole, “the only difference being, I didn’t get to the ball that night… I was still inside.”
On completing her sentence and her time at the workshop, Nicole left HMP Bronzefield with a clear goal: to become a designer. Blue Sky has been delighted to support her aspiration. We gave Nicole a Matched Grant to buy a sewing machine. She has been working with our Community Support Worker, Yvonne Williams, to access expertise in setting up a business, and also receiving help from the Real Business Club in applying for new business grants. She has been on a print screening course and has designed her own logo. It all seems to be paying off. Nicole is rapidly drumming up business, picking up commissions from modelling her own outfits at festivals and carnivals.
Nicole now has her eyes on a future that’s full of hope, but she hasn’t forgotten her recent past. When she’s built up enough orders for her clothes, Nicole would love to involve Stitch in Time in production. “Putting something back,” she explains, “to a very special place that helped me re-design my life.”
(Nicole is pictured with her mother Sharon Douglas at a recent fundraising event hosted by Blue Sky patron Anya Hindmarch.)
How are today’s leading companies demonstrating their social credibility and widening their pool of talent to stay competitive?
Are your recruitment practices holding your company back?
How could ex-offenders help your business?
Find out how Blue Sky can address these questions for your company. Download our latest thought-leadership piece, following our pivotal involvement in the DWP’s See Potential campaign.
WIDEN THE RECRUITMENT NET AND SEE THE POTENTIAL
Blue Sky has launched a new whitepaper entitled: Designing Core Services
With In-Built Social Value: More Bang For Your Buck.
In the current climate, how can councils ensure they generate maximum social value – as well cost savings – for communities? In austere times, will the long-term social value achieved by outsourced services still be commensurate with the financial value of contracts? And how best should councils prioritise the social outcomes infrastructure services can deliver?
Our recent white paper takes on these questions and the document offers a series of recommendations for council directorates to mandate maximum in-built social value from the purchase and delivery of their infrastructure services.
Please click on the link below to download the whitepaper.
BLUE SKY AND PUBLIC SERVICES – MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
“I used to play football for QPR, for eight years, loved it and then I got caught up doing silly things.”
Irvin went from playing football for ‘the hoops’ to making what he describes as a stupid mistake which led him to being inside at HMP Coldingley. Following his release he found it hard to find motivation to work and then one day he decided to make a change and hunt for a job.
Today, his deep voice sounds focussed and confident as he tells me about his experience “I’ve had a good day today, I’ve been working with Sharon and the team at Hillingdon Council and its going well.” Irvin didn’t find Blue Sky immediately after being inside and spent three years before he decided he had to get a job. He had a daughter in that time and becoming a father “changes everything.”
“There should be more companies around like Blue Sky.” He states as he explained that there weren’t many other options recommended to him by employment services post release. In fact, the interview he had with Blue Sky was the first he’d ever had with a company and he felt that extra bit of confidence knowing that the organisation employed ex-offenders.
He admits that getting back into work wasn’t easy, “it can be a bit difficult to start off, you have to adjust to a working environment, having a boss and listening to people, but now I just love it, it’s great to be busy and now I’ve got a job working with Hillingdon which is just down the road from where I live.”
It’s down to his own hard work and dedication that 7 months later, the road ahead looks bright for the man who likes to support the blue & whites of QPR and also Blue Sky.
We were delighted to welcome Mike Trace, RAPt CEO and Blue Sky Trustee, to Denham this week to work a shift alongside Blue Sky employees. Here he is pictured getting ready for his induction.
Asked how he got on afterwards, Mike said, “I had my head down strimming and thought I was doing really well only to look up and see the other two Blue Sky guys streets ahead of me! But I felt very looked after by everyone; there was great team spirit. Certainly a change from my usual day.”
Blue Sky is featured in an interview with Johnson & Johnson in Supply Management magazine on why they use the power of procurement to help people lead happier and healthier lives.
“Buying social is about making sure every £1 a company spends can bring much more. It isn’t about a charitable donation, it’s establishing a commercial contract with an organisation which recognises it needs to perform (or even out-perform) competitors…” John Chesters, Blue Sky Commercial Director. Read more here
Blue Sky started a facilities management contract with Johnson & Johnson earlier in the year, maintaining their office grounds in High Wycombe (pictured below).
Blue Sky has been working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the ‘See Potential’ campaign to promote the benefits to employers of working with people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The DWP visited Blue Sky to make a film about what we do, interviewing our MD Kate Markey, Teams Director Steve Finn, and Irvine, one of our current employees. Irvine is pictured below between Richard Branson and the Dragon Den‘s Deborah Meaden in a poster for the campaign. Click here to link to the films and further campaign details.
On Thursday 18th June the Park Plaza Westminster was home to the 16th annual Charity Awards gala dinner. Steve Finn and Anna Gordon were there to represent Blue Sky having been shortlisted two months ago in the ‘Social Care & Welfare’ category.
Hosted by (the very amusing) Will Greenwood MBE the night saw 12 awards given out to charities in categories like ‘Children & Youth’, ‘Disability’ and ‘Environment & Conservation’ among others. It culminated in the ‘Outstanding Achievement’ nod going to WaterAid’s CEO Barbara Frost and finally Lumos winning the ‘Overall Award’. It was amazing to hear about all the inspiring work that is being carried out in this sector.
The tenth award of the night was for ‘Social Care & Welfare’ and Blue Sky were up against two wonderful charities: Karma Nirvana who support victims of forced marriage and honour-based abuse and also The Silver Line Helpline who strive to tackle loneliness among older people. Very proud and pleased (albeit surprised) to win Steve and Anna went up to collect the award from Dorothy Dalton, the editor of Governance Magazine, and the actor and comedian Kerry Godliman.
A huge thank you to Civil Society Media and CAF and finally to all the judges on the Charity Awards panel who chose to honour a very grateful Blue Sky.