Working Chance is an award-winning charity and the only specialist recruitment agency in England and Wales which addresses the significant gap in employability provision for women ex-offenders and young women care leavers (aged 18-25). With few aspirational job opportunities available for women after prison and faced with employer prejudice, our candidates have little choice but to fall back into the toxic cycle of poverty and crime. Reoffending costs the taxpayer £13 billion each year and circa 58% of women reoffend within one year of release. In stark contrast, over the last decade, our reoffending rate has consistently been below 4%. Moreover, out of the 1,742 placements we have made in total, 83% of our candidates are still in work after six months.
The needs of women involved in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system are often gender-specific and almost always complex. Many of our candidates have a complicated history of abuse, trauma, addiction, mental ill-health, poverty, and experience of life under the care of the state. In fact, around a third of women in prison have spent time in state care during their childhood. Our work addresses this strong link in intergenerational offending and the need for preventative work to break the care-to-prison pipeline.
We provide continuous and bespoke rehabilitation support for our candidates. Along their Working Chance journey, candidates benefit from a range of services including: pre-placement support to ensure they are ready to enter employment, recruitment consultancy, in-work support to help our candidates sustain employment and move up the career ladder, and an extensive series of workshops to enhance our candidates’ employability skills and emotional resilience.
A significant part of our work involves challenging and changing employer attitudes. Through our employability workshops in prisons, we continue to give our current and potential corporate partners the opportunity to meet our candidates face-to-face. These personal interactions help break down common misconceptions surrounding women ex-offenders and care leavers. They also equip our partners with the tools and experience they need to challenge the status quo within their place of work as well as advocate the value of our candidates.
We want society to realise what we realised back in 2009, that whilst these women may have made bad decisions in the past, they are still mothers, sisters and daughters and deserve a second, working chance.