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Ex Offenders work in Royal Parks

27 January 2011

ISS Facility Services Landscaping is to offer parks maintenance jobs in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to ex-offenders to turn them away from crime.

Pictured with representatives from Blue Sky and ISS maintenance team from left to right : MP Theresa May, Jonathan Altken patron of Blue Sky, leader of the council David Burbage, Phil Jones managing director ISS Facility Services Landscaping

The social scheme, which is run by the Council with maintenance contractor ISS Landscaping along with social enterprise firm Blue Sky*, was successfully piloted last year.
Home Secretary and Maidenhead MP Theresa May recently waded through muddy fields to launch this innovative project at Maidenhead’s Braywick Nature Centre. The Royal Borough is the first local authority in the country to turn temporary placements into permanent jobs following its successful six-month pilot scheme last year.
Cllr Simon Dudley (Con. Riverside), cabinet member for adult and community services was delighted with the success. "This is an excellent scheme which takes a very practical approach to getting low-risk ex offenders back into paid employment," he said.
The five young ex-offenders selected will work with ISS Landscaping as fully paid employees and be involved on tasks such as maintenance of parks and cemeteries, grass cutting and tree planting; they have already helped ISS with the planting of 800 trees. Although grounds maintenance work can be erratic due to seasonal changes, ISS and the Council have committed to provide employment to the five young men throughout the twelve months of 2011. It is hoped that this will provide them a spring board for seeking further employment beyond this contract.
Phil Jones, managing director of ISS Landscaping said, "it is particularly pleasing because it is assisting in an area where traditionally it has been difficult for Blue Sky to gain support among the business community."
According to a spokesperson at Blue Sky, the reoffending rate of Blue Sky’s employees is 15 per cent – which is a quarter of the national average.
*Blue Sky Development & Regeneration is a not-for-profit company established by the charity Groundwork Thames Valley. It was set up to give paid work to people coming out of prison, to enable them to move successfully into long-term employment. Over the 5 years since it was set up, Blue Sky has employed nearly 300 ex-offenders - that's greater than the entire inmate population of some of Britain's prisons. And of these, less than 15% have re-offended - that's a quarter of the national average. Blue Sky’s mission is to help break the cycle of re-offending and achieve long-term benefits for society. Visit
www.blueskydevelopment.co.uk


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