Building on our 10-year track record in industries such as grounds maintenance, waste management and distribution, Blue Sky is developing exciting new partnerships in construction. Working with companies such as Powerday, we are offering entry-level employment opportunities for ex-offenders with the potential for further training and career development.
We are actively seeking applications from ex-offenders now and in 2017 – applicants must have a ‘Green Labourer’ CSCS card for these opportunities. (Potential candidates who are currently unemployed can get themselves put onto CSCS courses via their local job centre.)
To find out more about our vacancies click here.
To apply for vacancies or to be put on our waiting list for jobs click here.
Blue Sky has employed and supported over 1,300 ex-offenders since 2005.
We’re delighted to let you know that Blue Sky has been selected to participate in the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2016, the UK’s largest match funding campaign.
Blue Sky is raising money for Employing ex-offenders, bridging the UK skills gap, a project to create real jobs and targeted training programmes for ex-offenders within growth sectors of the economy, giving those leaving prison an opportunity to turn away from crime, and helping to reduce re-offending and its huge social cost while also plugging skills gaps in industries such as construction and distribution. Full details of the need for the project, aims and impact can be found here.
By donating to our project when the Christmas Challenge goes live (between 12pm on 29th November and 12pm, Friday 2nd December) the value of your gift will be doubled through match funding from a Big Give Charity Champion, a third party philanthropist. We are looking to raise £15,000 in online donations over the period of the Challenge, matched to generate a total of £30,000 to support our work.
If you’d like to support our project then please email Carwyn Gravell, Development Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the amount you’d like to give. We will then get in touch closer to the time of the Christmas Challenge with details of how to donate online.
We very much hope that you’re able to support our work – more crucial than ever at a time when resources in prison are stretched and morale is at an all-time low – and to offer hope, purpose, and a second chance in life to people like Irvin, pictured below, and many more like him.
“On leaving prison after 8 years, my prospects weren’t good. I thought, ‘Who’s going to employ an ex-offender?’
But then I found Blue Sky and I’ve never looked back.”
“I feel more like the person I am supposed to be.”
“I don’t want to go backwards because I can see how my life has improved.”
Two powerful endorsements of the transformational impact that having a job can have on the life of ex-offenders, as featured in Blue Sky’s new Theory of Change which I’m delighted to share with you, the result of a 4-month project with Blue Sky team members and many of our ex-offender beneficiaries. Click here to download an ‘infographic’ of our findings.
Through focus groups, surveys and individual interviews with our beneficiaries – conducted by an independent agency – we have identified the short, medium and long-term changes that ex-offenders achieve by securing employment with Blue Sky.
The stark need for Blue Sky’s work rings loud throughout the findings of our Theory of Change, demonstrated through the common themes that emerged: the high levels of anxiety, ill health and peer pressure on leaving prison; the immense loneliness and social isolation as individuals move away from old social networks; the lack of confidence and basic skills to understand the workplace.
“I feel so terribly lonely that I wouldn’t be happy even if I won the Lottery…”
But the longer our employees sustain employment then the greater and longer-term the positive benefits: a commitment not to re-offend; feeling legitimate and connected to society; being a role model for loved ones.
“I’m taking my mum away for her 60th birthday. Before I just made her cry…”
We have a number of reasons for publishing our Theory of Change. First, to demonstrate our commitment to our beneficiaries and ensure their voice sits at the heart of Blue Sky. The feedback from our beneficiaries will in part inform how we shape services going forward. Secondly, to illustrate to our funders, supporters and commercial partners the incredible transformation that they help create in the lives of ex-offenders.
It is a compelling reminder that having a job is the single most effective factor in reducing re-offending, yet 75% of people leave prison to unemployment. Having a purpose makes us legitimate, gives us identify and ensure we are connected to society. So thanks to everyone for their support and loyalty to Blue Sky, without which none of this would be possible.
Blue Sky Development & Regeneration
Having a job is known to reduce the likelihood of re-offending by up to 50% yet 75% of prisoners are released to unemployment. Blue Sky has directly employed and supported over 1,200 ex-offenders since 2005, and holds one of the highest scores recorded by the Ministry of Justice for reducing re-offending.
Blue Sky has recently started to deliver training in prisons with the aim of preparing inmates for working with us on the outside. The training is delivered over one or two days and is practical, hands-on and employment-focused. By identifying the potential in individuals, engaging with them whilst they are still inside and supporting them through the gate, Blue Sky enables prisoners to believe in themselves and to start planning for a positive future.
Blue Sky currently delivers training programmes at HMP Belmarsh, HMP Onley, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, HMP Pentonville, HMP/YOI Feltham and HMP Isis. The training to date has been enthusiastically received:
“Fantastic form of help for us … keep it going”
“I would recommend every prisoner to attend this course”
“The introduction has been very very helpful”
“This was very helpful and it will help me to stay away from prison”
Malcolm Reilly, Blue Sky Teams Manager and Trainer: “The benefit of training in prisons is the hope it gives to prisoners that there may be an opportunity to work upon release. We also raise awareness with other prisoners who may not be thinking of what they will do when they get out. The other inmates are in cells looking out of the window, calling out, ‘how do we get on this course?’”
Kate Markey, Managing Director of Blue Sky: “Preparing for a crime-free life on the outside means starting the work-ready journey on the inside. Vocational training helps releasing prisoners see the employment pathway to the outside .”
For the fourth year running, Blue Sky has been selected for ‘The Big Give Christmas Challenge’, a scheme where different charities campaign to raise money from their donors and where funding is matched by third party philanthropists. Blue Sky’s campaign this year supports our training work in prison. To donate to our campaign please visit: https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/charity/view/10574/blue-sky-development-and-regeneration
Oliver Jones aged 23 and his younger half-brother Jack Chaplin 21 have completed the 41st TCS Amsterdam Marathon on 15 October. Both young men pushed their boundaries by trying this new run and managed to raise a large sum of over £12,000 for Blue Sky.
“I definitely hit the ‘runner’s wall’ but we just kept pushing ourselves because we really believe in what Blue Sky does.” Jack
Oliver heard about Blue Sky through a friend who talked about the work to assist ex-offenders to have a second chance in life. After discussing it with Jack both felt they wanted to take on this challenge on behalf of the ex-offenders who struggle to find work.
“It’s really inspirational when individuals like Jack and Oliver give so much of themselves to support a social enterprise like Blue Sky. This kind of concern and support for the welfare of others is crucial in our work. Providing jobs for ex-offenders who often face discrimination when seeking employment can be de-moralising. Having individuals share our vision to provide ex-offenders with opportunities is crucial. ” Blue Sky’s MD Kate Markey
Everyone at Blue Sky team would like to congratulate Jack and Oliver on completing the marathon and say thank you for raising funds for the work we do to support ex-offenders into work. And we would like to thank all our supporters who share Jack and Oliver’s passion and belief in the value of our work.
In September and October staff from RAPt and Blue Sky attended events to celebrate the collective achievements of our charities to date. And to look forward to the future by presenting and discussing our new three-year business plan strategy and the integral role of staff in delivering its aims and objectives.
The conferences included a Q & A session with the senior management team, a speed dating market stall session to help staff learn about different areas of the organisation, and six interactive workshops. We also heard from our beneficiaries and their personal stories of lasting change. As one Blue Sky team member stated:
“The highlight of the day was the RAPt clients, who were brave enough to share their journey to recovery. Hearing their personal challenges really reminds us why we work so hard: it’s to ensure we put our clients at the heart of what we do. Listening to their personal story today has inspired me to keep working towards this common goal.”
Awards were presented to staff and Blue Sky is particularly proud to announce that Minta Sakaria, our HR Manager (pictured below, right, with Mike Trace, RAPt CEO) was nominated as a ‘courageous individual: someone who goes that extra mile to support those around them’:
Staff were also treated to a guest speaker on each day. Ben Hunt-Davis MBE spoke about his experience winning an Olympic gold medal in the rowing, focusing on how his team constantly thought about how they could “make the boat go faster” by working on a common goal. A week on from the conference and “does this make the boat go faster?” has become a stock question in the Blue Sky office to challenge our decision-making.
We were also lucky to have Gary Prout, an Invitcus games gold medallist, speak about his harrowing experiences as a soldier, his painful recovery from his injury and perseverance to go to the Para Olympics as captain of the archery team, providing huge inspiration for delegates:
“When the Para Olympian Gary spoke about losing his friend and the repeated challenges he faced it put so much into perspective. It shows that as a team sometimes you just have to push through those difficult times, work together and think of new ways to break through barriers.” Blue Sky employee
The day as a whole was a hugely rewarding experience for Blue Sky staff, particularly in making new connections with RAPt colleagues with whom we are working ever closer to create life-changing opportunities for our beneficiaries.
Oliver Jones aged 23 and his younger half-brother Jack Chaplin 21 are completing an ambitious and challenging marathon. Whilst Jack has completed a half marathon in Sydney, Oliver has never run a marathon before. However, they both felt ready for a new personal challenge. Oliver says the training is not proving easy but raising money for Blue Sky is well worth the effort.
The 41st edition of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon will take place on 16th October 2016. The TCS Amsterdam Marathon is known for its fast and beautiful course. The start is in the historical Olympic Stadium. The course leads the participants through Amsterdam’s city centre and passes many highlights including the Rijksmuseum (containing art by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh), the largest public park in Amsterdam Vondelpark and the Amstel River.
Oliver heard about Blue Sky through a friend who talked about the work to assist ex-offenders to have a second chance in life. Oliver then looked into Blue Sky’s work further, investigating its history as a social enterprise. He researched the statistics on support and rehabilitation for ex-offenders and was shocked that there are not more organisations like Blue Sky. After discussing it with Jack, both felt they wanted to take on this challenge on behalf of the ex-offenders who struggle to find work. Both felt that ex-offenders who endeavor to turn their lives around are “commendable and an inspiration”
Jack, aged 21.
“Neither of us have been directly affected by a family member going to prison, but I have a friend whose brother struggled on being released, having been very happy and driven before going in. The most appealing aspect is probably the idea of getting a second chance, particularly for young people.”
Oliver, aged 23
“It’s really inspirational when individuals like Jack and Oliver give so much of themselves to support a social enterprise like Blue Sky. This kind of concern and support for the welfare of others is crucial in our work. Providing jobs for ex-offenders who often face discrimination when seeking employment can be de-moralising. Having individuals share our vision to provide ex-offenders with opportunities is crucial. ”
Blue Sky’s MD Kate Markey
Everyone at Blue Sky team would like to wish Jack and Oliver the very best of luck with their marathon run. And we would like to thank all our supporters who share Jack and Oliver’s passion and belief in the value of our work.
To help Oliver and Jack raise money for Blue Sky please click here to donate
If the unpredictable events of the last month have proved anything, it is that few things in life are constant. Including the rehabilitation of offenders.
Whilst there’s still much uncertainty on how the prison reforms announced in June will play out (including perhaps the Ministerial position by the time this blog comes out) here and in true Blue Sky spirit, we are busy trying to capitalise on the changes.
Most notably, our decision to start training in prison earlier this year has positioned us well. Serving prisoners are responding really well to our vocational training courses, currently in HMP Scrubs and Belmarsh but soon to move into other London prisons too. We hope the sessions reflect the kind of reforms the Ministry of Justice wants to see: Practical (recognising the challenge for some serving prisoners to learn in a traditional classroom setting); Job focused (giving real information about the industries we operate in); Peer-led (featuring people with lived experience).
We have a real vision of where this work could take us on our mission to be the single biggest employer of ex-offenders. Delivering industry training in prisons helps us find new recruits but also delivers work-ready people to our clients. Because of course, achieving our vision cannot be an individual endeavour. Creating real sustainable and systemic change – particularly within a criminal justice system – takes true collaboration and partnership. We don’t have all the answers, nor the resources, but we can, together with others, change the way prisoners are rehabilitated through training and how ex-offenders re-enter the workplace and become economically-active and engaged members of our communities.
Most importantly in such times of change, our challenge is to remain constant to the people we serve, our ex-offender employees. Constantly rewarding, invariably unpredictable and rarely the same. Somehow through all of this, our support and our values are, and must remain, constant to them.
Kate Markey, Managing Director
“Blue Sky give us ex-cons a chance, where a lot of other companies do not consider us.”
- Can you tell me a little bit about your past, what lead to you being in prison, if you did? Had you been inside before?
I first went to prison when I was 15 years old and was in and out of prison for years.
- What happened when you came out? What was it like to try and find work?
Not many companies like to take ex-offenders on, so it was quite hard to get a job.
- How did you hear about Blue Sky?
I heard about Blue Sky over the years from mates who worked there themselves and I applied online.
- Why did you want to come and work for Blue Sky?
It’s a job that has helped me move forward in life.
- What was it like to start work with Blue Sky?
I found working with Blue Sky okay, because everyone seemed accepting and I worked hard.
- What is the main support you’ve got from Blue Sky (i.e. specific training, housing support, mentoring by supervisor, help to get into a full-time job?)
Blue Sky has helped me in a few different ways.They supported me to obtain my CSCS health and safety test. They also supported me with my driving license and when I failed this by two points they encouraged me to try again: I am still trying.
- What difference did Blue Sky make?
This job has kept me out of trouble and I enjoy working, it gives me a sense of satisfaction.
- Describe your experience of working for our partner organisation.
I work at Hillingdon council on the street cleansing team, we pick up the rubbish tipped all over Hillingdon. We do a good job and make the community tidier.
- Has your life changed and if so what has contributed to this? What are you doing now ?
My life has changed as I have kept out of trouble and I look forward to the future moving forward. I can even plan ahead and think about holidays now.
- What are your plans for the future?
I would like to start my own gardening and fencing business in a few years. I’m training myself up, saving and working on this. It’s good to feel I can now plan for the future.
“I would recommend Blue Sky, they helped me and would help others, it’s great and I have enjoyed my time here.”
Shyam was a young man when he went into prison, so he never had a real job. When he was released after his most recent conviction, Shyam was determined to turn his life around. But he found it very hard to get work despite having had lots of interviews. “All of them refused me, because of my criminal record. When I saw that Blue Sky only employ ex-offenders it felt like my last chance, so I was excited to take it.”
Shyam worked for Blue Sky as a grounds maintenance operative for 4 months, enough time to get him on his feet, start earning an income and planning for the future. Shyam explained that because he had not worked before, his role with Blue Sky helped to teach him about the structure and commitment needed to sustain employment.
Shyam’s life is very different now, he runs his own independent business, a commercial and domestic maintenance service called Enviro. Shyam has a strong work ethic and his main focus is to try to deliver a quality trustworthy service.
Shyam explains that without the opportunity to work and prove himself, he may not be in this position now. Shyam’s success should be attributed to his hard work: “I work every day, often I work at the weekends and whenever I am offered a job, I take it. I am driven to succeed. With Blue Sky’s help I managed to work hard and save up to fund my own business.” Shyam now has positive plans for the future and intends to expand his business in the next 9 months.
“Models like Blue Sky help individuals like me, it gave me an opportunity to invest in myself.” Shyam explained that it is hard at the beginning and he did want to give up, his advice to all new Blue Sky employees is: “Keep going, save money and invest in the future.”
Enviro Maintenance Services
Enviro Mobile: 07341 813999