Closed Loop is offering the scheme in conjunction with Blue Sky
Plastic bottle recycler, Closed Loop Recycling, has joined up with social enterprise Blue Sky to offer ex-offenders a job at its state of the art recycling facility in Dagenham - and with it the chance of a better life.
About 90,000 people are released from prison every year in the UK, but 60 percent go on to re-offend within two years. One of the biggest challenges ex-offenders face is finding a job, but having recently linked up with Blue Sky, the Dagenham plant now employs four ex-offenders full-time on its production line.
“We help them reintegrate into society and get their chins off their chests,” explained Closed Loop Recycling’s Head of Operations, Gerry Martin. “We encourage and don’t discriminate. It can actually be quite a harsh environment to work in, but a lot of these guys have been looking for a job for a while. Even in this day and age we still need humans to make sure only the correct materials go through the process.”
Head of fundraising at Blue Sky, Carwyn Gravell explained the scheme is often the difference between rehabilitation and re-offending for many former cons: “It’s all about giving these people a second chance and an opportunity in life,” he says. “It’s extremely tough for ex-offenders, so we turned the situation on its head and only employ people with a criminal record. We expect a lot from them, just like any other company would, but we offer them a lot of support and help in moving on.”
One-time warehouse mechanic Christopher Nelson is set to become the first Blue Sky worker to be given a full-time contract with Closed Loop, after impressing bosses with his hard work and commitment.
The dad-of-two, from Romford in Essex, served a six-week term in Pentonville in early 2012, before ending up on the dole for more than two years.
Checking the production line to make sure all bottles are correctly washed, Christopher is relishing life on the outside once more, as he continues to turn his life around.
“I’m really enjoying the work and learning new things,” he said. “Every day I regret what I’ve done, so I’m really grateful to Blue Sky and Closed Loop for giving me this opportunity.”