A Fresh Start for Ex-Offenders

Startup is a charity established in 2006 whose mission is to help female ex-prisoners get back on their feet, become independent and effectively turn them into entrepreneurs.

Juliet Hope, Startup’s founder and CEO explains that organisations such as Startup are essential for women to reintegrate into society after a spell in prison. It is often hard for ex-offenders to get a job, and certainly difficult to obtain funding from a bank to setup their own business. 

Female prisoners can apply to be part of the Startup Scheme whilst still in prison, and placement into the scheme depends entirely on the individual’s ideas, enthusiasm and business acumen. Placement is not affected by the type of crime they have been charged with.

The main aim is to help reintegrate ex-offenders back into society, and give them a sense of purpose and means of income to ensure that they won’t re-enter the prison system once they have been released.

Startup gets most of its funding from the National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund, and costs £8,000 for every four women entered into the scheme. This amount covers weekly workshops for one year for all four women. In addition to this, two of the women receive training in writing a business plan, and one of the women will receive £2,500 to support the startup of their business idea. These figures are encouraging considering that it cost £40,000 per year to keep someone in prison.

In terms of reducing re-offending, the scheme has proved successful. The UK’s average reconviction rate (within one year of release) is 51%. Amongst the 700 women who have partaken in the Startup scheme, only one re-offended, bringing this same figure to just 0.1%.

A similar scheme is available for male prisoners in Texas, America, and has had similar success. The Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) was founded in 2004 and has worked with over 1200 men to date. Jeremy Gregg, PEP’s chief development officer, describes the scheme application process as “very rigorous”. Applicants must undertake both written tests and interviews in the hope of being selected for the program. A high school diploma is a prerequisite and only prisoners charged with sex offences are excluded from applying. The reoffending rate for participants of the PEP is 5% (compared to 50% of non-PEP ex-prisoners).

Roslyn Callender, a 57 year old former prisoner has Startup to thank for her new start in life. "Without Start Up’s assistance I would have reoffended or gone back to drugs, for sure" she says.

For participants such as Roslyn, Startup is so much more than a chance to earn money. Startup is a chance to live a better life. That surely is priceless.

Many ex-offenders find it hard to get back on their feet after a spell in prison. Every way they turn, their path is blocked by their past. Many employers will not take on ex-offenders, and many insurance companies refuse to provide business insurance for self-run ventures. This leaves former prisoners with no way to provide for themselves or their families.

Here at SIS, we believe your past should not be a guide to your future. We provide competitively-priced quotes for car insurance, home insurance and business insurance.

We are also proud members of the EFFRR (The Employers' Forum for Reducing Re-offending) and currently employ a young apprentice in possession of a criminal record through the Trafford Youth Offending Service. This fusion of real life experience and industry-leading service makes SIS Insurance the leading provider of insurance for all people with criminal convictions, bankruptcies or IVAS.