The Wallich have launched a ground breaking new project called BOSS (Building Opportunities Skills & Success).

BOSS will provide innovative employability and entrepreneurship training to ex-offenders and prisoners serving sentences in South Wales at Cardiff, Swansea, Parc Bridgend, Usk and Prescoed prisons.

The project aims to reintegrate ex-offenders into their communities by giving them the skills, qualifications, job and volunteering opportunities and confidence they need to gain employment or set up enterprise.

BOSS received close to £1m from The Big Lottery Fund after a bid was written based on the evaluation of the Streets Ahead project that worked with people who had experienced homelessness.

Research from Streets Ahead identified that many people faced barriers to employment because of their criminal record without the services in place to support them.

‘Prevent homelessness’

The Boss team will work with and existing corporate partners to educate employers about the benefits of employing ex-offenders and tackle the negative stigma attached to an offending history.

BOSS will dramatically impact on the rates of re-offending, take up of educational opportunities, employment rates of ex-offenders and improve the number of corporate organisations who will employ ex-offenders and prevent homelessness.

Ellie Pearson, Project Manager for BOSS said:

“At The Wallich we understand the complex challenges that ex-offenders and prison leavers face during their transition from prison into the community and know the project will make a dramatic difference to a great deal of ex-offenders lives, reduce reoffending across South Wales and create safer, healthier communities”.

‘I knew that I wouldn’t get the job’

The Wallich has supported Owen* who faced barriers to employment because of his criminal record. He said:

“When I interviewed for some jobs I wouldn’t even tell the employer about my criminal record because I knew that I wouldn’t get the job.

If you mention the words ‘criminal record’ or ‘police’ you’re unlikely to even get your foot past the door. I’m so grateful to The Wallich for their support and feel lucky to be employed now with full disclosure of my past but a project like BOSS would’ve really helped me to overcome the issues I faced”.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

For more information about BOSS please contact Ellie Pearson: ellie.pearson@thewallich.net

Photo: Matt Appleby, Director BITC Cymru, Ellie Pearson, BOSS Project Manager, Rob Pickford, The Big Lottery Fund, Ash Thomas, HMP Cardiff, Jan Balsdon, Director of Fundraising and Corporate Partnerships at The Wallich and James Harries, BOSS Ambassador.