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Halfords, the UK’s biggest cycling retailer, has launched a Cycle Mechanic Training facility (also known as Halfords Academy) at HMP Drake Hall, Stafford in a bid to help offenders to get their lives back on track. The Halfords Academy launches today with the support of Justice Minister Phillip Lee.
The new facility will initially offer nine female offenders the opportunity to train as bike mechanics, creating the prospect of steady employment and a chance to put their past firmly behind them. Offenders will be supported by Halfords colleagues, who will set the same high standards as colleagues at Halfords shops – the training programme is thorough, designed to challenge participants and raise aspirations.
The move will provide a vote of confidence for the Ministry of Justice’s rehabilitation agenda. The programme will involve offenders being trained and working on reconditioned bikes on a daily basis. 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 schemes.
The bike workshop will also help to grow the number of female bike mechanics in a profession which has been traditionally male dominated.
The workshop at Drake Hall is the second facility set up by Halfords, the first being at Onley Prison near Rugby. The facility at Onley has been running for two years, Halfords’ employment programme for offenders has trained and offered full-time jobs to 28 candidates. Last year, the Academy at Onley won the Department for Work and Pensions See Potential award.
Jill McDonald, Halfords’ CEO said: “We’re very proud to launch the second Halfords Academy at Drake Hall and excited at the prospect of helping to tackle reoffending whilst also producing highly skilled colleagues.
“Businesses supporting rehabilitation makes perfect sense, as it increases the talent pool, lowers the cost of reoffending and contributes to safer communities. The more productive people are whilst in prison, the more they can learn and the better their chances of succeeding once they leave.
“Ultimately, our success at Onley is owed to our brilliant team there that have shown a huge amount of commitment to making this project a success. It is their enthusiasm, openness and drive to succeed that has led us to extending the Halfords rehabilitation programme to Drake Hall.”
Justice Minister, Philip Lee, said: “I am delighted to be opening the Halfords Training Academy at HMP Drake Hall today.
“This is an excellent scheme which gives women the vocational skills and education they need in preparation for release. It will give them a new start - helping to reduce reoffending and turn their backs on crime.
“We are committed to helping all offenders turn their lives around so they don’t get stuck in the cycle of crime. We want to see offenders entering the workplace and making a success of their lives.”
Halfords has 11,000 employees and was named number 18 in the Sunday Times Best Places to Work Survey 2015. To find out more about Halfords’ training and careers, visit Halfordscareers.com.
To read more about Halfords' work in the community, visit halfordscompany.com/responsibility/community