It’s a pretty gutsy thing to build a socially driven business. What inspired you?
And why did you decide to start working with former offenders?
For other businesses that might be inspired to do the same, how do you start employing ex-offenders?
How many of your workforce come from prisons?
What’s the biggest challenge in employing ex-prisoners?
What's the work ethic of ex-offenders like?
I’ve actually found that my ex-offender employees are some of the most hard-working, loyal and long-serving members of the team. They are the most incredible individuals and a lot of them have experience in prison kitchens, which means they fit in well.
How do you keep them motivated?
By ensuring they are always learning and their jobs are always enjoyable. A key factor is for all employees to recognise there is growth potential, both in their roles and at the company more broadly. Finally, you have to ensure they are striking the right work life balance.
Regular catch ups or an informal coffee are good ways to avoid any major issues flaring up, but they should always enjoy their day-to-day job.
Do you think the fact that you’ve gone down this charitable route gives you an edge and sets you apart from the competition?
You need to have a bloody good product to stay in business. Social or not, people only come back for the food. But we’re proud to have worked with some really big names like Armani, Adidas and Facebook, as well as private clients and a couple of weddings. On average, we do about 30 events a week.
Socially, what are your plans for the future?
We’re always looking for ways to help our ex-offender employees gain skills whilst they’re with us. For example, starting next year, we’ll be offering them to the chance to earn qualifications whilst they’re at work. We’re also always looking for new ways to recruit from inside prisons so that they can leave knowing they have a career to look forward to. Aside from our work with ex-offenders and prisons, we also want to be more green; having zero food waste is really important to us. Within the next two years, I’d also like to cut all our single-use plastic.
Finally, are there other companies like yours? If readers want to support similar businesses, who would you recommend?
Greggs and Timpson’s are also employing ex-offenders which is ace. We consider them friends in the industry. Any other entrepreneurs looking to make a difference should get in touch with me or a charity. Switchback or Key4Life are great and will guide you through the process. If I can do it, anyone can.
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