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Three cabinet ministers visit Trinity Street

London SE1 website team

Red Kite Learning was visited by education secretary Ruth Kelly and home secretary Charles Clarke last week when it hosted the unveiling of new plans to improve education and training for offenders.

Photo courtesy of Red Kite Learning

Ms Kelly and Mr Clarke were joined by work and pensions secretary John Hutton, as well as Sir Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, who said that employers were increasingly willing to employ ex-offenders who wish to work and contribute to society.

The Green Paper's key proposals include a stronger focus on jobs, with more relevant skills training, designed by and responding to employers' needs; a new 'contract' for offenders, with incentives for participation; and a 'campus model for offenders to ensure continuity of education from prisons into the community.

The VIPs spent an hour at Red Kite Learning's Trinity Street offices, where they spoke with ex-offenders, other learners and members of staff about their experiences and achievements.

Photo courtesy of Red Kite Learning

Ms Kelly explained she had decided to launch the Green Paper at Red Kite Learning – which helps ex-offenders into work – because it exemplified the positive work that can be done to help people change their lives for the better.

She said: "Red Kite Learning is a really good example of the support that ex-offenders can get, which is good for them, good for employers and hugely important for society."

Red Kite Learning's chief executive Brendan Tarring was delighted to welcome the ministers and said he hoped the Green Paper would encourage employers to consider giving ex-offenders a chance.

"We hope that more employers will be willing to give our clients a fair crack of the whip – hopefully they'll be able to see that these are valuable individuals with skills who can contribute to firms' productivity in the long term," he said.

"I would like employers to pick up the phone and call us to discuss how we can work with them to provide a fair and constructive solution to the obstacles faced by ex-offenders – this is all about employers taking a wider view about how they can fill the vacancies they might have within their companies."

Andy Morris, an ex-substance misuser, recently gained employment as an office
administrator after help from Red Kite Learning advisors. He was referred to Red Kite Learning by Southwark Drug Intervention.

He said: "Red Kite Learning has made a huge difference to my life. Through them I have managed to sustain employment – hopefully that will continue in the long-term.

"Now I can achieve a lot of the goals that I had set in the past, but which I had failed to do because of my time in prison.

"Perhaps I'm searching for utopia, but now I think that there's much more to life than jail."

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