An ex-prisoner who was offered paid work on a Shoreham construction site during the last months of his sentence said the opportunity had given him ‘a second chance’ to turn his life around.
Mo Bangura was the first person to secure work through the Brighter Pathways programme after he was relocated to HMP Ford’s open prison in West Sussex just over a year ago.
The scheme, a partnership between Wates Residential and One Way, supports offenders in the last 18 months of their sentence by helping them to find and retain employment and secure affordable accommodation.
After an impressive interview, Mo started work in April 2019 and excelled so much in the role that, after he was released from prison, he was offered a permanent position.
He now works as a Gateman for the Shoreham site, where regeneration work to the river wall at Free Wharf is currently underway to make way for over 500 new waterfront homes.
Mo said he had never previously considered a career in construction but now believes he has found a ‘vocation for life’.
He said: “I can’t believe I have been given this fantastic opportunity with Wates Residential and One Way.
“The day I was told that I had been successful, I just kept smiling.
I have been given a second chance to turn my life around and this opportunity will really help me to get my life back on track so that I can make my mum proud of me again.
“I feel lucky to have two companies believe in me enough to give me another chance and to invest in training me.
“I am excited for my future, working in construction and staying out of prison.”
‘Everyone deserves a second chance’
The partnership between the companies and HMP Ford was supported by The New Futures Network, a specialist part of the prison service responsible for brokering relationships between businesses and prisons.
While the reoffending rate for adults released from custodial sentences of less than 12 months between July to September 2017 was 62.2 per cent over a 12 month follow-up period, at HMP Ford the rate was 9 per cent, due to the rehabilitation services and work programmes that are available in the area.
Paul Nicholls, Managing Director for Wates Residential, said: “Everyone deserves a second chance and the Brighter Futures programme offers a real opportunity for ex-offenders to access sustainable training employment opportunities to support their rehabilitation back into the community and set them up for the future.
“It also makes real business sense to recruit from a wider talent pool if we are to remain fit for the future and address the industry’s widening skills gap.”
The construction industry faces the twin challenges of an ageing workforce and poor talent pipeline.
Figures from The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) highlight that the industry will need to find 157,000 new recruits by 2021 to keep up with demand.
Brighter Pathways aims to upskill future construction workers, lifting the pressure off the skills shortage facing the industry and helping to ensure its future success.
‘A real chance at reform’
Sasha Bayly-Simmonds, Project Lead at One Way, said: “For One Way this is very much about making a change, we have the resources to change someone’s life. Why wouldn’t we?
“The programme has enabled us to offer someone a career and a real chance at reform.
“The Brighter Futures partnership has enabled us to move someone straight into work on release, with career prospects and a fresh start”.