Latest News | 12 October 2022

Chamber chief appointed to prison role

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The chief executive of East Midlands Chamber is helping to bridge the gap between employers and prisoners after being appointed to a key position.

Scott Knowles is now chair of the newly formed employment advisory board at HMP Sudbury Prison.

The 12-person board helps to develop work and training opportunities for prisoners, establish partnerships with local businesses, and invest in projects that will support their progression into long-term employment once they return to the community.

The chamber’s director of resources Lucy Robinson is vice-chair of the board, which also includes business leaders from organisations including Cosy Direct and The Alternative Board

Scott said: “It’s a great privilege to be asked to lead the new employment advisory board, which has a crucial role to play both for society and businesses.

“We want to ensure prison leavers are given the tools they need to re-enter the community and make a meaningful contribution via a long-term job.

“At the same time, businesses are grappling with a skills shortage that is severely hampering their growth prospects, with four in 10 East Midlands businesses that attempt to recruit struggling to fill vacant roles.

“With the region’s unemployment rate at a record low of 2.4% amid a rising number of people leaving the workforce, businesses now need to widen their labour pool via inclusive recruitment strategies that tap into people from all backgrounds, including prison leavers.

“Some of our members have already started to do this and are hugely enthusiastic about the contributions they make because these individuals are very keen to make a new start and will show great loyalty to the organisation that gives them a chance.”

Craig Smith, governor at HMP Sudbury, said: “In my experience, there are three golden threads that enable any individual leaving prison to remain out of prison – a place to live, contact with family and friends, and employment.

“Employment offers a wage, dignity, purpose and hope to succeed within the community.

“I firmly believe that by offering these golden threads, we will succeed in rehabilitating and ensuring we start to reduce our prison population.

“The employment advisory board is vital in offering HMP Sudbury the chance to provide these goals.

“Scott is ideal to lead this with his knowledge, experience and connections via East Midland Chamber.

“I appreciate his honesty, directness and innovative thinking, and I am delighted he is the chair of the board.”

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