A BRADFORD housing association is one of 25 organisations in the country to sign up to a pledge to give opportunities for people with convictions.
Unlock Your Future is a new scheme to use a key symbol on job adverts indicating that an employer will consider all applications on their merit and not on people’s past.
Horton Housing's services director Linda McGowan said employment is a significant opportunity for people to break the cycle of reoffending.
She will be speaking at a conference at HMP Oakwood in the West Midlands on July 1 about Horton’s own experience of employing staff and volunteers with convictions.
The No Offence! project has been set up by social enterprise No Offence and aims to break down barriers to employment for people with convictions.
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Horton Housing, which delivers support, training and housing services in Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and North Yorkshire, has past positive experiences of employing staff and volunteers with convictions, giving roles from support workers to managers.
Ms McGowan said: “Getting a job can be particular difficult for people who have been in prison or who have convictions. Often it is very hard to even get an interview, let alone a job, even though people may have the right skills and aptitude for the role.
"At Horton Housing we judge people on merit, not on their past experiences, and we are more than happy to give people a chance to turn their lives around. It takes a great deal of strength and resilience to break the pattern of re-offending and we recognise that people who have been through this experience often have a lot to offer in the workplace.”
Horton Housing takes steps to ensure that former offenders do not present any risk to clients or service users and that they are not put in a position where they may also be put at risk because of their previous experience.
Operations director of No Offence, Richard Rowley, said: “Unlock Your Future is a very simple concept with a powerful message from employers, that they will give people with convictions the same opportunities as other candidates.
"It is not about preferential treatment, more about assessing someone’s suitability for a position based on their capability not on their past. The key can be placed discreetly on a job advertisement sending a clear message to applicants that this employer is willing to give them an opportunity.
"Breaking the cycle of reoffending is a real challenge, with employment being a key factor in making it a success.
"No Offence! is giving employers the opportunity to recruit in a non-judgemental way and increase their pool of potential candidates.
"Horton Housing is a welcome addition to our network of employers alongside Virgin Management Ltd, Home Group, Shaw Trust, Amey and many more. Together they are all breaking down barriers to employment for people with convictions.”
Find out more about No Offence and the Unlock Your Future project at no-offence.org