Our unique model of offender rehabilitation involves winning commercial contracts from local authorities and private companies and then fulfilling the work by employing ex-offenders. As well as a full-time, fully-paid job we offer each of our employees a personalised package of supervision, mentoring and resettlement support. Since 2005 we have employed and supported over 1,000 ex-offenders and only 15% have re-offended, a quarter of the national average.
“Just look at Blue Sky. It’s the only company in the country where you need a criminal record to work there”
We are driven by a desire to bring about real and lasting social change and challenge perceptions about ex-offenders. We believe that the current re-offending rate is unacceptable and that Blue Sky offers a sustainable and scalable solution.
- Re-offending is a criminal waste of money. It costs the UK £13 billion each year. The estimated cost for every single re-offender is approximately £200,000.
- England and Wales release 90,000 prisoners per annum. 60% re-offend within two years.
- A stable job cuts the probability of re-offending by up to 50%, the single intervention with the highest degree of success.
- YET, over 75% of prisoners are unemployed on release. It is 8 times harder for someone with a criminal record to find work than for someone without one.
“Ex-offenders’ chances of getting interviewed for vacancies are slim once they disclose their records. A further obstacle is that they tend to lack the people skills and the recent employment experience that would improve their chances of getting hired. Blue Sky has an answer to these problems. Their jobs are eminently suitable for men and women who genuinely want to fight for a second chance.”
Jonathan Aitken, author, broadcaster, columnist, lecturer, campaigner for prison reform and Blue Sky Patron
- We offer full-time, full-paid six-month employment contracts to ex-offenders. The areas we currently in are grounds maintenance, recycling, catering, laundry and distribution. Click on the map alongside to see where we work.
- We only win commercial contracts with entry level positions so no potential employee feels discriminated against due to poor educational attainment or lack of work experience.
- We ’employ then train’ so ex-offenders can start earning from Day 1 of being with us. We then offer a personalised package of training based on individual needs and ambitions (including within the Employee Progression in ‘Our Support’).
- We are non-judgmental about the life histories of our employees. We are open and honest in our communication. At all levels we are committed to acting in a way which exemplifies what we expect of each-other. Working together to bring the best out of each-other, to foster an inclusive culture in which people can thrive.
- Employees are mentored throughout their contracts by other ex-offenders. 50% of our staff have a criminal record.
- Approximately 20% of new starters are in housing difficulty and each year we help about 60% of them enter the private rented sector using our Housing Loan Scheme.
- Over 50% of our employees leave us having received some training funded by Blue Sky. For example, a forklift driving licence, a health & safety accreditation or construction qualification.
- Nearly half of our leavers are brokered into a full-time, onward job on completing their contract at Blue Sky. Permanent jobs have recently included a Graffiti Removal Operative, an Assistant Site Manager, a 7.5tonne HGV driver and a Kitchen Porter.
We regard our employees as our People – part of the Blue Sky family. We employ some of the most marginalised people in society and many join us with chaotic personal lives. 15% are homeless, over half have had drugs or alcohol issues and many are in the process of rebuilding their personal relationships. With self-confidence and dignity restored, our employees achieve stability in their finances, health, housing and relationships. This allows them, often for the first time, to present themselves with pride to their families and to feel hopeful about the future.
“Blue Sky has changed my family and my dad. I hope that Blue Sky can change people like it did for my dad”
Amy, 11 year old daughter of a Blue Sky team member
“This is intelligent procurement at its best – and we want to encourage more of it”
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society
A simple proof of Blue Sky’s transformative effect is this: since 2005 only 15% of our people have re-offended – one quarter of the national average. This works for our employees and it works for society as a whole.
As we have grown our work has been recognised by a number of awards:
- Centre for Social Justice Award Winner for ‘an outstanding poverty fighting organisation’, 2009
- Winner in ‘Social Care and Welfare’ category – Charity Awards, 2010.
- England’s Social Enterprise of the Year, 2011.
- We were one of 10 Downing Street’s two Social Action Partners for 2011
- Winner of the ‘Enterprise’ award in the Third Sector Excellence Awards, 2012.
- Blue Sky was chosen as one of the 30 Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers.
- UK’s Social Enterprise of the Year for ‘Education, Training & Jobs’, 2013.
As an innovative social enterprise, Blue Sky is able to provide a flexible answer to our clients’ needs. An example of this is our ground-breaking ‘Victor’ initiative which has been developed in partnership with the award winning charity Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI). The aim is to help ex-military ex-offenders turn their lives around and return to employment – people who have served their country but who have found it hard to return to society.
Project Victor was established in 2012 and our first contract with Medway Council and Quadron Services has been very successful. It has received strong local and political support, and has enabled us to place Victor teams into contracts in Kent, but also in Essex and Hampshire, with plans for new teams in Surrey. To date we have employed over 30 veteran ex-offenders on these contracts and 66% of those that have left us have moved straight into onward employment.
Wayne, pictured alongside, served two tours in the Army in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. He was later diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) leading to the breakdown of his marriage and an alcohol dependence problem. One day when he was drunk he robbed a local bookies and was handed a 4 year prison sentence by the Judge. In prison he started cleaning up his act by going to the gym, taking classes and as he wasn’t drinking he felt his mental health quickly started to improve. On release he was referred to Blue Sky via Amey as he had done some work for them on day release. He currently works on Blue Sky’s tarmacking contract with Amey for Hampshire Council and is doing very well. He says: