A decorating enterprise is giving ex-offenders a fresh lick of paint, discovers Ebony Ali. //
Bounce back is a painting and decorating charity and social enterprise that helps ex-offenders get back on their feet having completed their sentence.
The charity was set up in 2010 by Francesca Findlater as a means of giving back to the community by training, and finding work for, ex-offenders. The charity trains them to become painters and decorators working on anything from people’s homes to large commercial buildings.
Bounce Back works with several prisons in London, including HMP Wandsworth, HMP Wormwood Scrubs and HMP Brixton.
The training begins while the offenders are still in prison and continues on after their release. Prisoners are able to obtain an NVQ qualification as well as work experience upon release which eventually leads to paid work.
The courses run every five weeks and take on about 8-10 people; the aim is to stop offenders re-offending. Bounce Back says, over 130 people have been through the programme at a rate of six to eight new candidates a month. Of these, Bounce Back has supported 80 per cent into paid employment. Only 10 per cent have re-offended.
Jamie Parkes (pictured), the project coordinator who recruits the ex-offenders and deals with the community referrals, believes Bounce Back offers a service to a group who often go unnoticed.
He says: “It is important as there are not many charities for ex-offenders and not many people see ex-offenders as a vulnerable group.”
Ex-offenders struggle a great deal to find work after leaving prison and Bounce back helps them get back into the community. Parkes says: “It is incredibly difficult for people with criminal records to get jobs although this is changing; it is still a big barrier.”
Bounce Back’s biggest success story is of a young man called Weldeab who is the charity’s tutor. Weldeab came out of Wandsworth prison and took part in the programme and it didn’t take long before he became part of the team and now trains ex-offenders who are in the position he was.
Looking ahead, Parkes hopes Bounce Back keeps growing and plans to build a training centre inside Brixton prison. However funding can be an obstacle as they are reliant on donations from trusts and charitable foundations.