Virgin Trains has introduced a toolkit for businesses offering them practical advice on hiring ex-offenders. At the same time the train company, which is part-owned by Sir Richard Branson, is calling for more businesses to follow its own example and employ people with previous convictions.
In the past three years, Virgin Trains on the West Coast has hired 30 ex-offenders, 25 of whom work for the company in roles across the business. Employment has shown to significantly decrease the risk of recidivism. Not a single ex-offender employee or candidate in the talent pool at Virgin Trains has re-offended and, that being the case, the company is now looking to hire more.
Branson, Virgin’s founder who has been championing the hiring of people with convictions for the past few years, commented: “I’m delighted that Virgin Trains has taken on the challenge of hiring ex-offenders so successfully. It was great to meet one of our employees from the scheme, Tammy Moreton, and see how well she’s progressing in her role. Business must become a stronger advocate for rehabilitation. It makes perfect sense, as it increases the talent pool, reduces re-offending, nurtures entrepreneurial spirit and contributes towards safer communities. Ex-prisoners should have the chance to learn from the mistakes of their past, and not be damned by them.”
The Virgin Trains toolkit covers the company’s experiences from when it initially set up the programme three years ago to the present day policy. It offers advice and tips to those considering adopting a similar policy and affords valuable insight on what hiring ex-offenders can offer all levels of the business – from shareholders and managing directors right through to Human Resources Departments and the ex-offenders themselves.
Some tips include salient advice on:
*How to provide ex-offenders with the fresh start they need while also protecting your business from risk
*How to best work with partners and prisons
*The practicalities of running a recruitment day
The aforementioned Tammy Moreton, 23, from Birmingham is now working for Virgin Trains on the other side of the law as a revenue protection inspector after spending two years in and out of prison. As an apprentice, Moreton is training staff on ticket scanning machines, cracking down on fare-dodgers and gaining qualifications along the way. Without her apprenticeship at Virgin Trains, Moreton believes she would have struggled to stay out of prison, with half the crimes in the UK now being committed by previous offenders.
“I thought I would spend my life in and out of prison,” asserted Moreton, “but, bit by bit, I decided to take matters into my own hands and turn my life around. I was incredibly proud when I was offered the apprenticeship at Virgin Trains and another chance at life. Since being employed, my life has really changed, and much for the better. I’m now mentoring other ex-offenders to help them find employment. I’m determined to put my past behind me and embrace this new future.”
Kathryn Wildman, lead recruiter for Virgin Trains on the West Coast, stated: “We’re so pleased to be able to share what we’ve learned from setting up our ex-offenders programme. Our experience has been an entirely positive one. We’re proud to be hiring ex-offenders because we want to source the best candidates, no matter what their background might be. We’re now looking forward to expanding the programme still further.”