Halfords rehabilitation facility at women’s prison sees 100% success in first year. Retailer believes a targeted effort backed by business could lead to a significant reduction in women’s reoffending
One year after launching its Cycle Mechanic Training facility (also known as Halfords Academy) at HMP Drake Hall in Stafford, Halfords has hailed the project a great success.
As the UK continues to battle high reoffending rates, with 83% of former prisoners remaining jobless a year after release*, the UK’s biggest cycling retailer is encouraging other businesses to follow suit and open up to the possibilities of an increase in the talent pool, lowering the cost of reoffending and contributing to safer communities for all.
The Halfords Academy at HMP Drake Hall was launched one year ago with the support of Justice Minister Phillip Lee. The Halfords Academy offers participants the opportunity to train as Cycle mechanics, creating the prospect of steady employment and a chance to put their past firmly behind them. The programme can be tailored for each participant with an added focus on mechanics, customer services or retail.
Within a year of launch, the Halfords Academy has been a great success and is currently training nine female offenders. Two graduates have joined the business as full-time Cycle mechanics following their release, another two graduates are due to start employment soon, and a further two individuals are currently on Release on Temporary Licence at HMP Drake Hall*.
Fully supported by Halfords colleagues, participants are subject to the same high standards of training as colleagues at Halfords shops – the training programme is thorough, designed to challenge participants and raise aspirations. The programme provides offenders the opportunity to be trained and work on cycles that require being reconditioned and the majority of the bikes are then donated to primary schools in disadvantaged areas to help children access cycling through the Halfords school bike donation scheme.
Women only constitute approximately 5% of the total prison population, but research shows a gender-sensitive approach offers a real prospect that a targeted effort could lead to a significant reduction in women’s reoffending**.
The workshop at Drake Hall is the second facility set up by Halfords. The Halfords Academy at Onley Prison near Rugby was set up in 2015, and the Halfords’ employment programme for offenders has trained and offered full-time jobs to 30 candidates, although some of those colleagues have now moved on to different opportunities.
Kit Malthouse MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance said:
“Everyone deserves a chance to reach their full potential so it’s great to see an initiative dedicated to people who are determined to turn their lives around. A big pat on the back and thank you to Halfords and all those involved.
“I encourage others to get behind our See Potential campaign and give some of our most disadvantaged people the opportunity to get into employment.”
Jonathan Crookall, Halfords’ Group People Director said:
“We’re really proud of the progress we’ve seen at Halfords Academy at Drake Hall in its first year. We believe that projects like Drake Hall are a real win-win for businesses and local communities alike – the more productive people are whilst in prison, the more they can learn and the better their chances of succeeding once they leave.
“We’re not just talking about prisoners, we’re talking about people who have a huge amount of potential and skills, and above all, it’s about changing people’s lives and giving them a second chance. We’d really encourage other businesses to consider supporting offender rehabilitation and of course we’d invite them to get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to showcase our work.”
For further information please contact the Halfords press office on 0207 287 5006.