Leon was supported by the Novus education department, Novus Works, Novus Advise and wider prison community at HMP Kirklevington Grange to gain the qualifications, training, skills, knowledge and confidence to move into work on release. Despite the additional challenges of leaving prison and finding a job during a pandemic, Leon is now working full time and recently completed his on the job training to become a fully qualified operator with Velocity UK Ltd.
Whilst in custody, Leon achieved his Functional Skills in Maths and English, NVQ Level 1 and 2 in catering, and a biohazard cleaning qualification, which led him to work as a biohazard cleaner in the prison.
As he neared the end of his sentence, Leon met with the Novus Advise Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) service team who made him aware of the Novus Works employment service and job opportunities currently being advertised. The IAG team and Novus Works Employer Account Manager, Charlotte, supported Leon to apply and interview for a position with Velocity UK Ltd, who specialise in highway and street construction. At the prison, they helped him prepare for his interview, researching the company and providing guidance with interview techniques. Leon was successful in his interview and was offered a job to start after he was released.
Leon said: “In the run up to my release, Charlotte at Novus Works worked with me and the prison to help me to prepare everything I needed ahead of starting the job. My friends and family were there to keep me focused on the end goal and the prison staff were helpful too, making sure that I stayed focused on starting the job.
“From the start, in the new job, I got a lot of support, advice and guidance from the team. I’ve just been assessed by the management at Velocity and they signed me off as a fully qualified operator. After all the training, I’m delighted I’ve achieved my goal. I think this has the potential to be a job for life, I could possibly even progress to do other training and even become a trainer in the company in the future.”
Speaking about the recruitment process and Leon’s start with the company, Nigel Humble, Operations Manager from Velocity UK Ltd, said: “Due to Covid restrictions, we faced a number of challenges, but working with Novus was very easy and accommodating. Charlotte was always on hand to answer any questions and the help and support they gave us and Leon was very professional. Leon has taken to the job well, his work ethic and attitude is really recommendable. "
I would encourage other employers to definitely think about taking on ex-offenders, take the time to look into it and speak to people like Novus. We all need a break and a bit of luck to get started and get put on the right track.
And Leon has some advice for anyone in custody looking to find employment on release.
“There is more than enough help available in prison, but you have to ask for it, go and speak to Novus and the education department. When you go into prison, no matter how many times you have been in there before, it doesn’t matter, you can change things by asking for help.
“When you leave that gate, you have to put the sentence behind you and move forward. The world is your oyster even if you are in prison; support was available and I used it. We all worked so hard as a team to make this happen, it was a team effort to get me to this point and I will be forever thankful.”