Countess meets the innovative Paul Baker
Thanks to the successful partnership struck up between Haworth Scouring Company (HSC) and HMP Leeds, the Countess Of Wessex was able to witness some of the products made by offenders in the prison workshop. These were on display as she opened the new showrooms at HSC. The prison as well as sending offenders to HSC to learn a great work ethic, have been making some sample products for the open market out of "Real Shetland Wool" and in doing so helping to revitalise the Shetland Wool Industry.
The partnership which has seen 13 ex offenders be given work opportunities over the last 15 months continues to grow, and why wouldn't it as beneficial for all parties, none more so than the offender who would otherwise be back on the cycle of crime. Haworth Scouring Company have gone out of their way to help this partnership work which undoubtedly is of great value to our local communities. The typical recidivist offender costs the taxpayer between £1 Million and £10 Million of (yours) the taxpayers money depending on when they decide enough is enough, unless a scheme like this can impact as it has with HSC. One of several offenders who is now a valued member of staff at HSC has recently become a father and as a result of their input, the little boy now has a fighting chance of having a bright future.
Steve Freer Business Development HMP Leeds It was wonderful to be able to share stories such as these with the Princess yesterday, and to proudly show off the Real Shetland Wool items in the knowledge we are helping to support the Shetland community. The Curtis family (HSC owners) have been so supportive to what is generally unchartered waters, but have proved beyond doubt that (and in The Countess' words)"quite often if you give the right person (in our case ex offenders) a second chance they will pay you back with loyalty, long service and hard work", and in times of great economic uncertainty we at HMP Leeds are careful to make sure we get the "right candidate" for any corporates innovative and caring enough to partner with us.
One of the reasons our partnership is so successful is that under the strong leadership of Governor Paul Baker we have created an environment here at HMP Leeds conducive with producing "work ready" men for the labour market and this is quite unique even beyond our walls.
The day finished off well with Paul Baker bumping into an ex offender at work at HSC, offering the perfect opportunity catch up on his new life. Fortunately, this young man left HMP Leeds 12 months ago and is doing very well thanks to the support he has received both in custody and post release.
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