The Skill Mill, which provides employment for young ex-offenders, gathered with local councillors, corporate partners, the young people it supports and other key stakeholders, for an in-person event celebrating one year since it secured funding through a Social Outcomes Contract (SOC).
The SOC has been crucial in enabling The Skill Mill to roll out its employment programme from its origins in Newcastle to communities across the UK. Its intensive six-month programme supports young offenders most at risk of re-offending by offering paid jobs, training and mentoring.
In total, 197 young people have completed the programme since it was established in 2013, with only 17 of those individuals being reconvicted. This amounts to a reconviction rate of only 9%, compared to 72% for persistent reoffenders nationally.
In the past year, there have been zero reconvictions.
Meeting at The Alnwick Garden, around 70 attendees heard about the huge success of the programme, including personal stories from the young people themselves.
The programme aims to provide valuable work experience and help vulnerable young people integrate back in into society and stay out of the criminal justice system.
Jobs are primarily in the environmental maintenance and construction sectors and are shown to improve emotional and physical wellbeing through being outdoors and in contact with nature.
David Parks, managing director of The Skill Mill, said: “It was wonderful to gather together and acknowledge the transformative impact The Skill Mill programme is having on young lives.
"It is the culmination of many months of hard work and dedication from all partners who are committed to improving the life chances of some of the most vulnerable young people in society.
"The Skill Mill helps young people break out of a cycle of criminality by helping to change their identity from one of offender to an employee with legitimate income, self-respect and a desire to change their behaviour and contribute positively to society and the economy.
"We hope more employers can use our services and products and therefore help us to support more young people.”