Academia, industry and social enterprise join forces to support those leaving prison
A one-of-a-kind partnership to deliver a business skills course and applied learning internship to people leaving prison has been launched.
Forming Futures, a collaboration between Strathclyde Business School (SBS), The Malcolm Group and The Wise Group will enable people who have recently served a short term sentence or community reimbursement order to gain an accredited qualification and make the first step towards a , sustainable work.
As well as providing transferable business skills, the course will help students reintegrate into their communities beyond belief and build lives based on abandonment.
Alongside intensive relational mentoring support by The Wise Group, this socially inclusive program will be delivered by SBS academics over ten weeks of instruction. Students will enroll for a Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) Level 6 Certificate in Applied Business Skills, followed by an applied learning placement with industry partner, The Malcolm Group.
The programme, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, will be open to people currently participating in one of the Wise Group’s relational justice mentoring programmes.
Since 2013, The Wise Group has run and implemented the National Ongoing Mentoring Scheme for short-term male prisoners in Scotland, which has been shown to significantly increase the chances of successful reintegration into society.
The program includes, but is not limited to, housing and release funding assistance, mental health and addictions support, digital inclusion, universal service connection, and assistance with obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment. All of this is backed by a supportive and trusting relationship with a mentor.
Because of this mix of support, only 10.5% of people mentored by The Wise Group return to the program within a year. Forming Futures seeks to reduce this figure even further, resulting in social, cultural and financial benefit for families and communities. Scottish government data indicates that almost 30% of people serving short sentences return to prison, resulting in more victims.
Professor David Hillier, Associate Director and Executive Dean of Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Our program will change the lives of our candidates, their families and their communities. As well as providing students with transferable skills and work experience, we hope this will enhance their aspirations by having the opportunity to participate in learning in the University environment, while continuing their mentorship with the Wise Group.
At Strathclyde we are committed to ‘useful learning’ and this project to help rehabilitate and reintegrate people who have left prison into the community aligns with that.
Sean Duffy, Managing Director of The Wise Group, said: “In partnership with Strathclyde, we realized we could create a learning environment where some of the most vulnerable in society could learn and train to be their best. form. I am delighted to make this partnership a reality.
“Students will continue to be supported by mentors from the Wise Group, who in turn will work with teaching staff at Strathclyde Business School. As the first partnership of its kind in the UK, we hope Forming Futures will show a new way of transforming lives through relationship mentoring.