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Procurement a ‘driving force for social change’

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20
May

Blue Sky is proud of our long-standing parnterhsip with Amey, which was recently acknowledged by shortlist nominations for two national awards: the National CSR Awards for ‘Partnership in the Community’, and the Better Society Award for ‘Innovation’. By working through Blue Sky Agency to place ex-offenders into a range of jobs within their environmental services contracts, Amey has created employment opportunities for over 350 people who would otherwise struggle to find work due to their criminal record. These jobs provide the foundation for transformational change in people’s lives.

Amey has recently signed up to the Buy Social Corporate Challenge and in a ‘thought leadership piece’ Chief Procurement Officer, John Cully, calls on other companies to sign up, creating significant soical impact by working with social enterprises within their supply chains:

“Much like traditional businesses, social enterprises provide services or products with the aim of making a profit. However, the difference is that their core purpose, including any profit made is directed towards delivering a societal benefit – often offering work to people marginalised from the workforce.

Amey has worked with a number of social enterprises for several years. One longstanding partnership is with Blue Sky, an organisation that supports ex-offenders back into work, with the aim of breaking the cycle of re-offending and challenging perceptions about people who have criminal convictions. “

Read the full piece here.

 

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Are you Passionate about Enterprise?

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21
Apr

Do you have a passion for enterprise and social justice? Blue Sky, with its parent charity RAPt, is seeking an exceptional enterprise manager to support the development of its enterprise activities.

You will be a commercially-savvy individual who is both experienced and passionate about start-up enterprise and the transformational power of employment to help people change their lives.

This is initially a 6-month opportunity with the potential for growth as RAPt develops its enterprise strategy. The post will be responsible for managing some existing enterprise activity, including a start-up enterprise programme for people in recovery from offending behaviour or addiction.

For a copy of the job description and person specification please contact Geetha Saba-Nathan at geetha.saba-nathan@blueskydevelopment.co.uk or to arrange a conversation with Kate Markey, MD of Blue Sky Development.

To apply please send a covering letter outlining experience accordingly to the Job Description and Person Specification and a CV.

No consultants please.

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Sheridan’s story: leaving behind the fast lane of crime

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19
Apr

Sheridan had been in and out of crime for most of his adult life. A life-long Londoner, he’d done various gardening jobs over the years but nothing permanent, and no thought of a career. With little to live on, the temptation of crime was always there to earn some extra money. He got involved in a gang that dealt drugs. It soon got serious. As a result of his criminal activity, Sheridan was shot at three times, the last time with a gun held to his head, point blank. “This was a serious wake up call,” says Sheridan, “I decided at the age of 42 that it was time to move on. I had to leave London, start again.”

Sheridan moved to Dover but struggled to find work. He found out about Blue Sky through Kennedy Scott, the Work Programme provider in the area. He was offered a job with Blue Sky as part of Veolia’s waste management contract.  He started work as driver loader on the bin round. “Looking back,” he says, “at the start, I didn’t think much of a job on the bins, not the most glamorous job in the world. But I thought it was worth giving it a try.”

Sheridan got stuck in, did a good job, and soon got noticed for all the right reasons. Veolia told him there was a permanent job going as a 7.5-tonne lorry driver, but first he needed his Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to enable him to train as a driver. Blue Sky paid for the CPC, Sheridan passed the test, got the job and got trained up. Since then he has also been trained as a mechanical sweeper lorry. He’s now being talked of as a potential charge hand, looking after a group of 20 workers and also driving a HGV vehicle (up to 32 tonnes).

Sheridan is full of praise for Veolia who took him full-time on after his start with Blue Sky. “They go above and beyond, make you feel part of something bigger, something important. When I had some problems at home with my girlfriend, they gave me some time off. They think about your future and make plans for you…Mike Cunningham [the contract manager] and the other staff have been great. I’m with like-minded people, who want to get the work done. We’ve even won an award from the council for our work.”

The impact of a solid job has been transformational for Sheridan. “I’ve made a new life for myself from scratch,” he says. “I’ve made some life-long friends, people I go to dinner with and spend time with their families.” It’s also changed his outlook, made him re-evaluate what’s important to him.  “I used to love driving fast, loved the thrill of speed, which got me into a lot of trouble, but now I’m more sensible. I used to drive a sports car costing me £10 a day to run, but now I’ve got a diesel car costing £10 a week. And I don’t want to get points on my licence for speeding, they cost double if you’ve got a CPC… I’ve worked to gain something I don’t want to lose.”

Having left behind London, and the fast lane of gangs and crime, Sheridan is now motoring along nicely with Veolia towards a safer future with good prospects. We wish him well.

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Kate’s Blog: New partners, new sectors, new jobs…

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19
Apr

Nobody ever changed anything without optimism, and it is with this spirit (plus a good dose of Blue Sky’s particular humour) that we start the Spring season and a new financial year.

Reflecting back on the last 12 months, I wanted to thank you, our Friends, Supporters and Colleagues, for your continued belief in our beneficiaries and in givng them a second chance.  Despite this being our most challenging year for recruitment, we will have exceeded our targets both in job starts for ex-offenders but also for our newest venture of training serving prisoners. And we have expanded our commercial client base.

This is a significant achievement, against a backdrop of challenges with Transforming Rehabilitation, continued austerity cuts and dramatic changes to employment status. I have always said that Blue Sky’s work is a bellwether of the economy and government policy, and no more have we felt that than during 16 /17.

But Blue Sky’s dogged determination and enterprising spirit never ceases to prevail. Despite the well-documented challenges inside prison, we have been determined to take our service through the gate and offer hope, an opportunity to change, and peer-led support behind the prison walls. As a reflection, 18 months ago we weren’t an accredited trainer and were working in just 2 prisons.  Today we are operating in seven prisons across the prison estate and targeting more in 17 / 18.

To give a flavour to the state and pace of change within the criminal justice sector, the Ministry of Justice is working on no less than 9 strategies around offender management: Employment, Education, Substance Misuse, Housing, Women, Staff Corruption, Staff Capability to name a few – whilst introducing governor accountability for education, employment and health (the Prison Reforms) alongside a prison estate review. On a basic level this could mean prisons closing or re-rolling to different categories, a change in governors, different paymasters for Blue Sky, and changes to how the probation services operate once people have been released.

These changes in welfare to work and justice demonstrate what Blue Sky has known from its inception: a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work and that understanding people’s specific needs, and the trust they put in organisations like Blue Sky, is how real sustainable change happens; and that a ‘work-first approach’ is a big incentive for people to change their lives for the better, simply because it quickly helps normalise people’s lives and gives them a means to connect to the outside world.

When I think of the severe social isolation articulated by some of our employees in the early weeks with us, the power of simply having a job feels incredibly real. In the words of one of our beneficiaries:

“Blue Sky gives us the confidence that we can make it.”

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Supporting Prison Learners at HMP Wandsworth

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1
Apr

Blue Sky Skills, which delivers vocational training and employability programmes in prison, is to start a new partnership with HMP Wandsworth. Blue Sky Skills will support the prison’s Centre for Excellence in Facilities Management, delivering accredited training in waste management, leading to employment opportunities with Blue Sky on the outside. We will also be delivering an innovative employability programme called ‘Job Planet’ to motivate participants with realistic short-term job goals leading to longer-term career opportunities.

Kate Markey, Managing Director for Blue Sky, says: “It’s fantastic to be working with HMP Wandsworth to help achieve its 2020 vision, which has learning, skills and employment as central pillars.  Blue Sky looks forward to be known by staff and prisoners alike as an organisation that offers hope through real work.”

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Blue Sky builds WWII shelter

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21
Mar

As the nation celebrates Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday, whose song of “blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover” warmed hearts during the blitz, Blue Sky has also been commemorating World War II. As part of a Lottery funded project at Heritage Garden, Gunnersby Park, the Blue Sky Services team has built an Anderson shelter, a construction that protected people from bomb blasts.

Steve Finn (pictured left), Teams Director for Blue Sky Services, said: “We’re proud to show what out our team can turn its hand to – a wide range of services to improve and enhance the environment. And we’re honoured to be part of this project at Gunnersby and in particular to remember those who endured such hardships during the war.”

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Blue Sky Agency diversifies into new sectors

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19
Mar

Blue Sky Agency, offering companies a value-added alternative source of temporary labour within their supply chains, is proud to announce a number of new commercial partnerships that take us into new industry sectors. Building on our strong track record in grounds maintenance and waste management, we have diversified in recent months into food manufacturing (in partnership with Adelie), construction (Powerday) and also bus driving (HCT Group). These partnerships are an exciting new development in our strategy to create more jobs and a more diverse range of opportunities for ex-offenders year on year.

John Chesters, Blue Sky Commercial Director, says: “In response to demand from employers, we now offer a flexible range of employment options, from 6 month contracts with Blue Sky, where we take on full employment responsibility, to shorter worker trials and brokered job placements, all fully-paid. Every ex-offender we recruit also gets a package of in-work support to help them sustain their employment. Over 40% of our employees progress to permanent jobs elsewhere, often with our commercial partners.”

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Vacancies at Blue Sky, a unique social enterprise

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17
Feb

Want to join an award-winning social enterprise helping ex-offenders change their lives?

Blue Sky Development & Regeneration finds real jobs for ex-offenders.

 We are now looking to recruit Employment Coaches to increase employment opportunities for ex-offenders in London and East Kent.  The successful candidate will:-

 

  • Provide efficient, professional and comprehensive ‘frontline’ recruitment services
  • Generate employment opportunities through brokerage for ex-offender candidates
  • Build and maintain a diverse network of local employers
  • Grow a first class network of local referral sources for candidates
  • Actively manage a caseload of ex-offenders to start and sustain employment, enabling them to achieve transformational change

 

So, if you have a passion to improve employment prospects for ex-offenders, and if you have:-

  • 2 years’ experience working on welfare to work, justice or similar outcome-based employment or training contracts
  • Proven work experience as a recruiter or employment coach to excluded groups
  • Demonstrable track record in cultivating networks to achieve targeted outcomes
  • Proven experience of engaging, managing and supporting candidates to enter and sustain employment
  • Demonstrable sales and/or negotiation skills

…then we’d love to hear from you.

 

For further information or to discuss this role further, contact Steven Garner on 01895 839848 or 07720 098787.

Blue Sky Employment Coach JD (Feb17)

Theory of Change

To apply, email your CV and covering letter, explaining how you meet the Essential Requirements, to steven.garner@blueskydevelopment.co.uk, or using the information posted on the Vacancies section of the Blue Sky Development & Regeneration website.

 

Interviews for this role will start immediately after Easter, so we look forward to receiving your application as soon as possible.

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Hidden talents

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15
Feb

We wanted to share a piece of artwork that we discovered on the back of a timesheet of one of our employees – a graffiti-inspired re-working of our logo and the defiant statement: “I Ain’t No Criminal”. At Blue Sky we’re all about creating new identities for people through the dignity of real work, and this piece sums up our mission rather well…

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Blue Sky features in DWP guidance on employing ex-offenders

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3
Feb

Blue Sky is proud to support the DWP’s See Potential campaign, and to inform its work in promoting the business benefits of hiring candidates from disadvantaged groups, including ex-offenders.

Published this week is See Potential’s new employer guide on open recruitment (written in partnership with BITC) which features Blue Sky as an example of good practice. You can download the guidance here: See Potential.

Blue Sky has also featured in videos to support See Potential. Click on the image of Blue Sky empoyee Irvin below to hear his story.

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