City & Guilds Foundation launches groundbreaking new skills fund for prisons

by | Dec 17, 2019 | News

The City & Guilds Foundation is inviting bids to a new £1m fund to help provide skills training and employment for prisoners and ex-offenders.

The Big Idea Fund is now inviting expressions of interest from charities, prison governors and other potential providers, with awards to be made from April 2020.

It is seeking bids that aim to meaningfully reduce reoffending through personalised training and sustained employment support in innovative new ways that can be rapidly scaled up if successful.

The Fund is the first major initiative of the Foundation’s ambitious new Future Skills Commission for Prisons. The Commission includes heavyweight names with wide experience in the sector to ensure funding is given to innovative and practical ideas that can make a genuine impact. It will be chaired by Dame Sally Coates and also include Junior Smart from the SOS Gangs Group and former prison governor Ian Bickers.

As standard-setting provider of workplace training and recognition, City & Guilds hopes to use its convening power in the skills sector to bring together outstanding providers and innovative practice in order to transform how offenders are supported into jobs in the future economy.

It has chosen to prioritise the rehabilitation of offenders in order to both help reduce re-offending rates and to help close skills gaps in industry by utilising the untapped skills potential of prisoners.

James Timpson, Chief Executive of the Timpson Group of retailers, one of the largest employers of ex-offenders in the UK and a member of the Future Skills Commission for Prisons, said: “We have seen in my own business the powerful impact that getting training and employment opportunities right for ex-offenders can have, both in terms of the hugely positive impact it can on have on them and the hugely positive impact it can have in our shops and on our customers too. I am therefore delighted to be supporting this exciting new initiative from the City & Guilds Foundation, which is rightly ambitious about what ex-offenders can achieve and the contribution they can make to the modern economy.”

Sally Eley, Group Director at the City & Guilds Foundation, said: “We are absolutely committed to breaking down barriers to help get people into work, and ensuring that society develops the skilled people it needs for the future. By setting up the Big Idea Fund we hope to encourage innovative ideas that can unlock the huge amount of untapped potential in our prison population and play a big part in addressing the skills challenge faced by industries today.”

For more information, or to submit an Expression of Interest, visit the Future Skills Commission for Prisons site at https://cityandguildsfoundation.uk/future-skills-commission-for-prisons/

Media support for this announcement is being provided by Daniel Forman at Crest Advisory: daniel.forman@crestadvisory.com

Notes to Editors

The Commissioners will use The Big Idea Fund and an aligned programme of work, to support projects which can evidence that they:

  • Explore innovative new ways to enable offenders to progress into meaningful, stable employment through the development of their skills
  • To ensure that the skills agenda in prisons is forward facing and that offenders develop the skills necessary for the future jobs market
  • To identify new approaches and showcase effectiveness.

The Commission is also interested in applications which are:

  1. Innovative: support the development of innovation, which can be stifled by the nature of how some contracts are awarded.
  2. Practical: focused on identifying practical, deliverable, solutions
  3. Collaborative: powers collaboration between the multiple stakeholders operating within the Prison estate
  4. Pan-Prison: identifies approaches that work across the Prison estate
  5. Systemic: seek to challenge the major system challenges faced by the HM Prison Service with large, high conviction investments

Applications

The Commission is keen to receive applications based on need and therefore has not set defined limits on the size of grants it is willing to make. It is however unlikely to fund proposals seeking less than £25,000.  The commission is planning to make a small number of grants out of the £1million fund, which may vary significantly in size.

Please note, eligible organisations can apply for a grant to cover a maximum period of two-years.

The Commission welcomes collaboration and consortium bids involving two or more eligible applicants, and is is welcomed, as is open to proposals that activate additional match funding from aligned sources, where necessary.

Proposals may include reasonable core costs.

Eligibility criteria

In addition to the desired attributes above, The Big Idea Fund will only accept applications for projects that meet all the following criteria*:

  • Are from a UK registered Charity or Community Interest Company, social enterprise, Prison Governor or organisations operating within the prison estate
  • Seek funding for work which is being delivered in Prisons in the UK

The Big Idea Fund is not able to support:

  • For profit businesses
  • Local Authorities
  • Organisations where observance of a particular faith is a prerequisite of support
  • Other

It is also unable to support applications which relate to:

  • Capital projects
  • Existing core activities
  • Predominantly research (although projects with an element of research will be considered, where there is a clear case for its value)
  • Repayment of loans
  • Projects which have already been delivered
  • Projects which are unable to evidence their impact by reporting against City & Guilds evaluation framework and theory of change.

About the City & Guilds Foundation

The City & Guilds Foundation is part of the City & Guilds Group, focused on high impact social investment, recognition and advocacy programmes. Each of the programmes we run act as a catalyst for us to make a difference to people, organisations and society through investing our surplus into helping everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, get opportunities to succeed.

The Foundation aims to innovate, celebrate and evaluate opportunities that will make a real difference to people’s lives through skills development by:

  • dedicating funding to social programmes that help remove barriers for people to secure lasting employment
  • celebrating those who demonstrate excellence and outstanding results from their investment in skills development, such as the organisations who have achieved the Princess Royal Training Award standard
  • measuring and analysing the full impact of everything we do – both commercially and through the Foundation – on delivering secure and sustained employment, strengthened organisations and a more skilled and productive society.

About the City & Guilds Group

We support over 4 million people each year to develop skills that help them into a job, develop on that job and to prepare for their next job. As a charity, we’re proud that everything we do is focused on achieving this purpose.

Through our assessment and credentialing, corporate learning and technical training businesses, we partner with our customers to deliver work-based learning programmes that build competency to support better prospects for people, organisations and wider society. We create flexible learning pathways that support lifelong employability, because we believe that people deserve the opportunity to (re)train and (re)learn again and again – gaining new skills at every stage of life, regardless of where they start.

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