Farming to re-build lives
The Oswin Project & New futures Network at HMP North Sea Camp
Did you know that prison leavers who get a job after release are up to 9 percentage points less likely to reoffend?
Helping people to secure work after leaving prison is therefore one of the most effective ways to reduce re-offending rates.
Employers in Lincolnshire have an opportunity to prevent crime in our communities, and enable serving prisoners and prison leavers who made mistakes in the past to transform and rebuild their lives.
Farms need people
What has this to do with food?
Fewer EU workers and the Covid-19 pandemic have left a gaping hole in the number of agricultural land workers.
HMP North Sea Camp – a men’s open prison on the Lincolnshire coast – provides training and work experience to prisoners, including agricultural, horticultural and other food-related work.
The Oswin project and New Futures Network seek to connect employers with prisoners and prison leavers who are fully trained and experienced in horticultural work and farming.
ROTL (Released On Temporary License) enables prisoners to go out to work on day release, for a full working week where needed.
The prison governor was quick to assert that this is not an opportunity for farms to exploit cheap labour.
The scheme involves strict procedures, including risk assessments and careful recruitment for the right person to the right job, as well as interviews and openness with the existing workforce.
HMP North Sea Camp open prison
I attended a recent open day at HMP North Sea Camp where we heard officers speaking enthusiastically about the men working on their schemes.
We heard prisoners tell us about their experience of the training – from birthing lambs, to training in environmental conservation – and their determination to make a fresh start and provide stability for their families.
One phrase stuck in my mind:
“Prison isn’t broken, society is broken!”
Lance Harris, National Sector Lead, New Futures Network, elaborated.
“Lots of things are wrong in society – it is so easy for youngsters to get in with “the wrong crowd,” or for any of us, in the wrong circumstances, to make a terrible mistake.”
“People are often mistaken about prison leavers: what happens here is brilliant!”
How employers can help prevent re-offending
There are three ways that farm employers and other businesses can help:
- Out-sourcing work to be done within open prisons such as HMP North Sea Camp, for example businesses that want to re-shore work back to Britain, or don’t have sufficient capacity.
- ROTL – offer work opportunities to fully trained and experienced day release prisoners, who travel from HMP North Sea Camp, with additional support and involvement from Oswin and New Futures Network.
- Employing prison leavers in sustainable jobs on release.
This presents a particular opportunity for Lincolnshire employers in the food and farming sector to contribute powerfully to the future of prison leavers as well as increasing the safety of our communities in the future.
Find out more
New Futures Network is the specialist part of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), which brokers partnerships between businesses and prisons. These partnerships result in work opportunities for serving prisoners and jobs for prison leavers.
To find out more about employing prisoners and prison leavers, including in food and farming, please visit https://newfuturesnetwork.gov.uk/ or contact:
If you would like to tell us about your experience of employing a prisoner or ex-offender on your farm or food business – or if you’ve been a prisoner and found a future in food – we’d love to hear from you.