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UK Power Networks to work with Business in the Community, to help ex-offenders back to work

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A scheme, which helps ex-offenders return to work, has been given a boost by UK Power Networks.

The company has pledged to sponsor three Business In The Community (BITC) employers for training and placements at a total cost of almost £5,000, as well as continuing to offer placements itself.

It means that more ex-offenders will be able to spend two weeks within a business where they will gain an insight into how it operates and shadow some of its employees. They receive mentoring, training in practical skills as well as coaching in time-management and conduct in the workplace, allowing them to prepare for future employment. At the end of the placement they are given a reference based on their achievements.

Les Waters, UK Power Networks’ area manager for Norwich, said the company had helped about 20 people in the Great Yarmouth area through the scheme during the past five years and was keen to help it develop.

He said: “Some of these youngsters may not have done well at school and then fallen in with the wrong crowd. With a little steering, they could be looking towards a worthwhile career and we have one individual who is now doing well in an apprenticeship with us, after two valuable weeks on placement.”

BITC works in partnership with the National Offender Management Service and the European Social Fund to deliver the Right Step project linking employers with the prison and probation services. Jayne Barnard, a project manager with BITC, said: “I’d like to thank UK Power Networks for supporting this scheme and providing funding for the project to help more people back into work.

“Recently, a BITC survey found almost half the employers in this region would be put off short-listing a skilled candidate if they knew of a criminal record in the past. Evidence shows that having a job reduces re-offending so we hope that this generous donation will allow other local firms to realise how worthwhile it is to give an ex-offender another chance.”

UK Power Networks has a long association with BITC. Last month the company hosted a seminar showing employers how to get the best out of current and future employees with a criminal record. In 2010 the business was awarded the BITC Big Tick accreditation for corporate responsibility in seven areas and Patrick Clarke, its Director of Network Operations, won BITC’s Prince's Ambassador award in 2008 for mentoring young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

As a result of BITC recently going into partnership with the YMCA, UK Power Networks is also planning to show YMCA residents what it does and what the engineering market can offer them.