National Inclusion Week: Why women with convictions deserve the chance to shape their own futures

National Inclusion Week: Why women with convictions deserve the chance to shape their own futures

National Inclusion Week celebrates progressive employers and those acting to create more inclusive workplaces. The theme for National Inclusion Week 2022 is ‘Time to Act: The Power of Now’, the aim is to encourage employers to take an action-focused approach and commit to change. In this blog, you can learn about Bide’s commitment to being a progressive place to work, through a partnership with women’s criminal justice charity, Working Chance.

Empowerment and respect. These are two of our values here at Working Chance, underpinning how we support women with convictions to reset their lives and thrive. Bide’s social impact mission includes removing barriers and narrowing the gap between the wealthy and those who are living on the brink of poverty. Collectively both Bide and Working Chance recognise the value of being inclusive by giving women with experience of the criminal justice system a fair chance to find meaningful work. Bide’s green cleaning products are handmade by their home manufacturing network of women, some of whom are women supported by Working Chance.

How do women end up with a conviction in the first place?
The reasons why women end up in contact with the criminal justice system varies and overwhelmingly, research has shown that women offend to support their families, or their offence is driven by poverty or domestic abuse. Their offences are overwhelmingly non-violent, and the majority of women who commit crimes do not pose a risk to the community. We believe that the solution lies in opportunities to turn their lives around, not in punishing them.

More than half of the women who come into contact with the criminal justice system have experienced domestic abuse or experienced abuse as a child. This means that it is very common that women in prison experience far worse crimes than they commit.

The experience of going to prison is traumatic: prison actively causes harm and does not work to deter crime. Women are likely to be serving short sentences for low-level, non-violent offences.

Once a woman’s debt to society has been paid, she is then faced with the task of rebuilding her life, while saddled with a criminal record, finding a job can be hard. And given that offending is so often caused by poverty in the first place, a decent job can be the difference between a new, bright future, and a cycle of criminalisation and reoffending.

That’s where Working Chance comes in. We’re the UK’s only employment charity solely supporting women with convictions. We support them through a journey where they develop skills, identify their ambitions, and then we find them meaningful employment. We help employers to see people with convictions for who they are – ambitious, skilled, and ready to get to work. We encourage employers to think about diversifying their workforce. 92% of the women supported by Working Chance go on to secure employment, this shows that with the right support women can move on from their past and thrive.

Bide: flexible work that supports women
Employment is one of the surest ways of preventing reoffending. And this is particularly true when a woman finds the job that is right for her and her family – after careers coaching sessions from Working Chance, our clients are supported into roles that they have chosen, in line with their aspirations and values. 90% of the women we support into a job are still working there six months later.

Bide allows women with experience of the criminal justice system to work flexibly from home, meaning they can work for the hours that suit them. This is vital, especially given that many of the women we work with have children or other caring responsibilities. This is what inclusion is all about: providing access to opportunities and resources to those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised. After going through the criminal justice system, being able to take ownership over your work, your income, and your time is truly empowering.

Meaningful work with companies like Bide helps women with convictions to start on a new path. For National Inclusion Week, if you want to empower other women to achieve their potential, sign up for email updates to learn more about Working Chance and support women to unlock their potential:

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