Bristol Together

Posted by editor 09/12/2013 0 Comment 3064 views

A Bristol Together client


Danielle Aumord uncovers a rare example of partnering bringing success to a training programme for ex-offenders. //

‘Two heads are better than one’ is a common saying but in the competitive world of charities and social enterprises it’s rare to see a collective of organisations working together for common good. A sad paradox maybe, but one organization is bucking the trend.

Bristol Together CIC, a partnership of social enterprises launched in 2011, is creating full-time jobs for ex-offenders and long-term unemployed people. Currently they are working with The Restore Trust and Aspire on a series of empty property renovations – all of which create employment opportunities, skills development, training and support for socially excluded people.

Founder Paul Harrod talks about the motivating force behind assisting ex-offenders back into both paid work and society as a whole: “Many people leaving prison find it hard to even get interviews, the criminal record is almost a permanent barrier to getting work,” he says with a committed tone. “Another bonus is the social impact achieved through developing empty properties.”

They have been working with Bristol council to bring some of their empty properties back into use, and are due to launch their Midlands-based project, aptly entitled Midlands Together, in January 2014.

The partnership organisations work with clients with a variety of crimes listed on their records, from violence to sexual offences and repeat offences. The non-discriminatory attitude is refreshing in the world of rehabilitation where many organisations have opinions about which type of offenders they are prepared work with and which not. “We want people whose attitude is right, people who want to move on,” says Harrod. “The previous offences of our clients are not an issue for us.”

Within the last year Bristol Together managed to help 30 people get into full-time paid work. One of their clients has even set up a carpentry business and is now ready to take on staff.

When asked about the potential for a London-based dimension to their work, Harrod responds: “We hope to have a successful launch in the Midlands next year, to make it work there, but there are no plans for London Together as yet. [Having said this] we are always interested in hearing from social enterprises and agencies that are willing to work with us.”

Building firm foundations through steady growth and strategic alliances to create lasting social transformation is the modus operandi of Bristol Together. It’s a format that many could take note of.


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