Iceland’s ex-offender recruitment scheme gets underway

Iceland Foods is continuing its initiative in supporting prisoners and ex-offenders to find and secure employment.

The frozen goods retailer appointed Paul Cowley as its first-ever director of rehabilitation back in August, a role which involves recruiting ex-offenders to work in Iceland’s stores and warehouses.

As an ex-convict himself, Cowley founded the charity Caring for Ex-offenders in 2005 which has helped over 2,000 men and women to reintegrate back into society.

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With recruitment already underway, Cowley has been interviewing men and women at prisons across the country for roles in Iceland stores, with many other prisons keen to get involved.

The recruitment scheme will be working alongside the Prison Employment Lead – a person employed by the government in every prison to develop connections between prisoners and businesses.

According to data from the Ministry of Justice, gaining meaningful employment following release from prison can cut rates of re-offending by 50%.

The ministerial department also found that two-thirds of prisoners have not been in employment prior to imprisonment, and almost three-quarters have no paid employment upon release.

“Most people in our prison system are poorly educated and have a bad or non-existent employment record. This is not always their fault and the cumulative effect upon the families, dependents and their mental health can be life threatening,” Paul Cowley said.

He added: “This initiative by Iceland Foods will present a prison leaver not only with the hope of a job, but the hope of a new life. I’m excited to be working with an innovative team who care about the marginalised and have the practical means to tap into the locked-up potential in our prisons.”

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods said: “I’m thrilled to welcome Paul on board as director of rehabilitation to help us continue our ‘doing it right’ efforts.

“Helping give former prisoners meaningful employment is not only helpful to our business but will pass on wider societal benefits that have been proven time and again.”



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