Spending the day in Leeds Prison was a trip down memory lane, having worked there for 25 years between 1990 – 2015. To walk in as part of Tempus Novo was a proud moment, especially having been invited by the reducing reoffending Governor, who is working hard to inject some hope in to a jail which has suffered from the recent staffing reductions.
The idea was to divide attendees in to groups, including serving prisoners and to come up with an idea which at the end of the day, the Dragons would be keen to invest in. In my group was Jason a former herion addict and serving prisoner who I knew from my time at the jail. He was keen to show me his idea of setting up a drug rehabilitation programme once he is released in July 2016. He had been working on this for several months and had done his best to make it look professional, with limited resources as is the case in custody.
I was really impressed with the plan he showed me and offered to discuss it in more detail once he is released. We agreed there could well be an opportunity to work together, where anyone completing his twelve week programme could be referred to Tempus Novo for interview.
The Mitie Foundation and Prosper4 were running the event and it ended with ALL prisoner attendees been given a certificate, which would allow them through to interview for a job with The Mitie Group, should they wish to apply once out of prison. This was a great gesture and it gives hope to an otherwise forgotten part of society.
The best part of the day for me was when after all the groups presentations had been assessed and voted on, Jason won the "Best Project" category. I actually thought he had a good chance, as when he was presenting there were several glazed eyes in the audience. The fact he was up against some amazing ideas and his presentation skills were a bit raw compared to one or two of the other more educated contestants, says a lot to me about "keeping it real" and showing your true feelings and passion. He will have walked back to his cell feeling 10 feet tall and so he should.