Approval for Royal Borough's ex-offender jobs scheme

A scheme in the Royal Borough to encourage ex-offenders back into work is set for Home Office approval.

Officials in Windsor and Maidenhead piloted a temporary six-month contract offering five vacancies to upkeep council-run cemeteries and parks.

After a successful trial, the 18 to 25-year-olds will now have their placements turned into employment.

Home Secretary and Maidenhead MP Theresa May will back the scheme on Friday during its official launch.

The five workers will be taken on by the council's maintenance contractor ISS Facilities.

'Future opportunities'

Councillor Simon Dudley, lead member for adult and community services, said the scheme had taken a "practical approach" to getting low-risk ex-offenders back into work.

"The pilot scheme has worked very well in the last few months and I am delighted that we are now able to offer the people involved permanent employment within our contract," he added.

"They will continue to work on tasks such as maintenance of parks and cemeteries and tree planting."

Phil Jones, managing director of ISS facility services, said the scheme would create future opportunities.

"The company has many examples of community-focussed initiatives," he said.

"However, this permanent arrangement is particularly pleasing because it is assisting in an area where traditionally it has been difficult to gain support amongst the business community."

The five were part of the social enterprise group Blue Sky, which takes on ex-offenders and offers long-term jobs with grounds maintenance and recycling companies across the UK.

Since it was set up nearly five years ago, 300 ex-offenders have been employed, with only 15% re-offending.

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