Entrepreneurs Unlocked launched a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2021 to raise money for the Build Back Up Project, to help prison leavers into self-employment in construction.

The project received £10,000 of funding to enable prison leavers to gain work, carve out a new career and help them avoid re-offending. The project crowdfunded £5000, and we are grateful to The Forward Trust for its match funding, enabling £10,000 to be raised.

Working with The Recruitment Junction, a not-for-profit recruitment agency for ex-offenders, the Build Back Up
project has enjoyed many successes including stories like these, where the funding from the project provided these three men with CSCS cards, resulting in employment.

After being homeless for some time, Tony* had finally got himself a flat and he came to The Recruitment Junction to get a job. A gateman job was available nearby and came
with good pay to enable Tony to maintain his flat. But to start work, Tony needed a CSCS card.

With the funding from the Entrepreneurs Unlocked Build Back Up Project, Tony took part in an online course, and exam and once he had the CSCS card, Tony was ready to start his new job in just a week.

Kerry Bell-Saunders, Recruitment Consultant at The Recruitment Junction, said: “Only with the funding from Entrepreneurs Unlocked Build Back Up Project were we able to turn this around so quickly for Tony and get him into work. Without the funding for the CSCS card, we would have had to sign Tony up for a course which would take potentially 4 weeks to complete, and this would have been 4 weeks for Tony with very little income.”

Simon*, a recent prison leaver, had a history of involvement in drugs and is on licence until November
when he plans to join the armed forces.

Simon had 6 months ahead of him with no work lined up and he really needed an income and something to occupy his time before joining the army. Simon also has severe ADHD, which means that he can’t cope with sitting down for a period of time in a classroom.

With the funding from the Build Back Up Project, Simon was able to complete an online course, with as many breaks as he needed, and he passed the exam the first time around, received his CSCS card and found a job in construction. Simon is now looking forward to November and his new career in the army.

‘P’, who had been offered paid work in Manchester by Bluegyp as a plasterer, and after gaining his CSCS card,
he was able to accept the offer and commence on site whilst on Release on Temporary Licence from the prison,
however, ‘P’ only had a small selection of tools.

Working closely with the prison education provider Novus at HMP Thorn Cross, the project was able to provide him with the essesntial tools needs to showcase his skills to the full.

‘P’ said “This is an opportunity to change my life. Having these tools will mean I can gain valuable experience on site and be able to have a future career in plastering. Thank you to everyone involved in making this possible”.

Entrepreneurs Unlocked continues its work with armed forces veterans, supporting them in self-employment in horticulture

Defence Gardens Scheme (DGS) works in partnership with veterans’ charities, military units, community mental health service providers and gardening projects to develop, deliver and evaluate nature-based therapy across the UK.

It is a ten-week, evidence based, horticultural programme that runs for one day a week, for four hours per day. On hand is a horticultural expert and a horticultural therapist. All sessions cover a balance of practical gardening skills and physical, cognitive, social, and emotional, therapeutic outcomes.

Entrepreneurs Unlocked was commissioned by DGS in 2021 to develop and provide the Defender to Entrepreneur (DTE) programme. This is a programme of remote support to military veterans across the UK, who are in the process of setting up their own businesses with the purpose of providing support services, training, and employment opportunities.


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