Former inmates to benefit from enterprise education course shown to reduce reoffending and boost employment

Media Relations Team, 15 August 2023

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UWE Bristol has successfully secured funding from the City & Guilds Foundation to deliver enterprise education to previously incarcerated people, in partnership with the charity Project ReMake.

The course – which will provide participants with the opportunity to earn qualifications in enterprise and entrepreneurship – will be free to join. It is hoped 20 participants will be recruited to the pilot course starting in September 2023, with additional cohorts planned for January 2024 and May 2024. The enterprise education will take place over eight weeks, delivered online and in-person by UWE Bristol academics as well as industry experts and professionals.

Participants on the course, which integrates education with industry and employment, will receive academic and business mentoring throughout their time with the project. Most participants will be able to join a 12-week paid work placement upon completion of the enterprise education course, providing them with the opportunity to obtain paid work experience. Project Remake’s industry connections allow participants to consider employment as well as the potential to pursue their business idea with support and advice from successful business owners.

Dr Jenna Pandeli, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at UWE Bristol, secured the funding for the course with colleague Lynda Williams. The programme will cover topics such as setting up a business; customers and marketing; finance, leadership, strategy as well as developing other practical skills such as presentation skills.

Dr Pandeli said: “Lynda and I are so excited about this incredible collaboration. Since completing my PhD exploring prison labour I have wanted to do something meaningful with my research findings. So much of my research pointed towards the keen interest and passion that so many of my research participants had regarding starting businesses and enterprise. It was important for me to put this into action. I was put in touch with the wonderful Kameel Khan, the founder of Project ReMake, and I knew instantly that we could work together to do something impactful. My research has shown that meaningful employment and self-efficacy have a huge impact on reoffending, both of which are key components of Project ReMake.”

Lynda Williams, Head of External Engagement at the university’s Bristol Business School, has been working with several organisations to support the education of people inside prison. She said: “We think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Bristol and the South West to adopt this programme as we feel this would have a positive impact on reoffending in the region as well as the lives of the participants.”

Project ReMake has been running in London for several years and is expanding outside of the capital to partner with universities throughout the country. UWE Bristol is set to become the central hub, where a new course will be created that embeds ILM qualifications. So far, Project ReMake has 93 graduates and there has been no known reoffending. However, there is currently not enough data to fully understand the impact the work is having on participants, their employment prospects, and the impact that it has on reoffending.

Thanks to funding provided by the City & Guilds Foundation, Dr Pandeli will research all three cohorts in 2023-2024 to understand their experiences on the course, specifically exploring the impact on participant self-efficacy, employment, and reoffending. Dr Pandeli said: “We need to continually look for solutions to improve the lives of people who have been incarcerated. We need to help them to adjust to life after prison, provide support with education and employment so that a prison sentence doesn’t do irreversible damage. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes economic sense if it also leads to a reduction in reoffending.”

Kameel Khan, founder of Project ReMake, said: “Project ReMake uses the empowerment of entrepreneurship to support successful re-entry of prison leavers back into society and to create positive change in their community. We help prison leavers to find work and to start a business. One of the biggest challenges facing individuals re-entering society after prison is finding and maintaining stable employment. With the help of UWE Bristol and our funders at the City & Guilds Foundation we would like to make this a national programme for prison leavers.”

Polly Rowe, of City & Guilds Foundation, said: “People leaving prisons are exceptionally vulnerable, and our role at City & Guilds in helping people to build skills and find practical routes into employment has never been more important. Unlocking the potential of the prison population not only helps to address skills shortages faced in this country but also allows these individuals to go on and lead fulfilling lives, reducing the risk of reoffending. We’re thrilled to be supporting this initiative and look forward to seeing the difference that will be made.”

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