Islington-based charity Working Chance has been given a £117k three-year grant to fund a new trainee recruitment consultant and expand its activities across London.
Working Chance is the only charity of its kind in the UK. It works as a recruitment agency for women with criminal records, as well as young women care leavers.
The grant comes from the City Bridge Trust, London’s largest independent grant-maker, and should be directed to another woman who left the criminal justice system to become a new member supporting women in the charity.
CEO Jocelyn Hillman OBE commented: “We are often the only place these women can turn to for help with finding a job and becoming financially independent. This grant will mean we can continue to support marginalised women to cross the social divide from lives of exclusion to lives of contribution.”
Founded in 2009 by Jocelyn Hillman herself, Working Chance has secured over 1,350 work placements for more than 800 women so far. Over 80% of them are still in their role after six months.
In 2015 they decided to expand their support to 18-25-year-old care leavers, as a third of women in prison have spent time in care, signalling what Working Chance calls a ‘care-to-prison’ pipeline for women.
Women account for 5% of the total UK prison population, and Working Chance is the only place in the country where they can find support to reintegrate the job market. Throughout the past eight years, recruiting activities went beyond London, and nowadays Working Chance is also based in Manchester, North England and the Midlands.
Understanding the criminal system and the effects convictions can have in someone’s lives is an essential part of the philosophy behind the charity; in fact, half of their staff had criminal convictions in the past.
Working Chance hopes to show employers how talented and motivated the women can be, regardless of their past and criminal record. The women recruited through the agency show determination and strong work ethic, according to Working Chance’s partners.
Some of their partners are the public sector and companies such as Virgin Trains, Pret a Manger, Mitie and Transport for London.
Apart from recruitment services, the charity also offers pre-release employability support, workshops and in-work support to ensure job sustainability.
Words: Pamela Machado I Subbing: Lotta Behrens