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Helping Teesside ex-offenders back into work

Date published: 13 August 2021

Read time: 4 minutes

Community Fund grant recipient, Clean Slate Solutions

A Teesside charity helping ex-offenders get their lives back on track is set to reach dozens more local people thanks to a four-figure grant from Newcastle Building Society.

Clean Slate Solutions supports people living across Teesside and North Yorkshire who have a past conviction find meaningful and sustainable employment to help give them the best possible chance of rebuilding their lives, thus reducing reoffending rates dramatically. 

The organisation, based at The Oakwood Centre, Eaglescliffe, has helped more than 70 local people find sustainable employment over the last two years, with more than four in five of them still being in their new jobs three months after they’ve started them. And it has built mutually beneficial relationships with more than 20 local employers along the way.

With demand for its services continuing to grow, it is now using a £5,000 grant from Newcastle Building Society to bring in several new sessional advisors to increase the number of referrals that it can manage at any one time.

Lorna Law, Head of Career Development at Clean Slate Solutions, says: “Our experience shows that there’s a real talent pool among ex-offenders and that they can make a huge positive contribution to their communities if they’re able to get the help they need to get on the right track. If someone has a genuine desire to be employed, then they now have the region’s first and only agency to work with to enable this.

“Some of the Clean Slate Solutions team have been on their own journey through addiction and/or the lived experience of the justice system, so they truly understand the situations our service users are facing, the barriers stopping them from finding and keeping a job, and the ways in which, with the right support, they can eventually succeed.

“We tailor the support we provide according to the needs of each individual, addressing what would seem to be minor issues to most people, like finding your first week’s travel costs or owning interview clothing, making a huge difference to their prospects.

“The need for our mentored approach is growing, but with so many fantastic social value-minded local employers already on board, the opportunities for us to make even more of a difference are also there.

“The greater the resources we can offer, the more people we can help, and the impact of the results we’ve been able to achieve so far often has to be seen to be believed.

“It’s amazing for us to receive this invaluable support for Newcastle Building Society.  It will help us provide the initial inspiration for dozens more local people who need a leg up to get things back on track and will make a terrific difference to their prospects of building fulfilling and successful lives.”

Clean Slate Solutions manages the entire support process, including carrying out initial screening and risk assessment, providing any training and education that an individual might need to get into or back into the workplace and offering a six-month mentoring programme to help them succeed in their new role.

Funding to help overcome initial barriers to work including meeting travel costs to new jobs and/or interviews and finding the right kind of clothing for interviews and new job starts can also be provided if required.

The grant is being provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network.

In the first half of 2021, the Society is directing its support to a range of projects tackling issues linked to employability, as part of helping its communities manage, mitigate and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

Kimberley Saunders, Manager at Newcastle Building Society's Linthorpe Road branch in Middlesbrough, adds: “The Society is committed to enabling people deliver long-term, positive change, and this year we’ve focused our grant-giving on projects linked to employability as our communities manage, mitigate and recover from the impacts of Covid.

“The pandemic has been tough on everyone, but Clean Slate Solutions has had a big impact on the lives of many local people and their families in a very short period of time, and the commitment and expertise of the team is hugely impressive.

“The benefits of their work will be felt across our community for years to come and we’re very pleased to be enabling them to now do even more.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Prince’s Trust.

The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.