An award-winning Teesside-based charity that supports people with past convictions into employment is calling for more businesses’ support after the success of a recent event.

Clean Slate Solutions’ “Leap of Faith” event, which took place on 29th February, welcomed 83 attendees from a range of businesses and organisations from across the North East in several industries, including construction, retail and housing providers.

Held at The Trinity Centre, Clean Slate Solutions’ offices in Middlesbrough, the “Leap of Faith” event aimed to raise awareness of the charity’s work and challenge misconceptions about hiring people with past convictions, with the ultimate goal of getting businesses to become employment partners or donate.

The event was sponsored by leading commercial law firm Muckle LLP, which has supported the charity through grant-giving and trusteeship over the past three years.

Through a range of presentations, talks and roundtable discussions, attendees gained valuable insights into the different experiences of individuals and businesses Clean Slate Solutions has worked with.

Attendees heard inspiring stories from some of the candidates Clean Slate Solutions has helped transition back into the workforce, who are now working in fulfilling roles with the Job Centre, Rethink Mental Illness, the Home Office and an HGV driver at Reed Boardall.

There were also presentations from Barker and Stonehouse and the Home Office; two employers who have collaborated with Clean Slate Solutions to create employment opportunities. Both have first-hand experience of the positive impact employing people with past convictions can bring to businesses.

Attendees also enjoyed keynote speeches from Steve Turner, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, and Mark Libby, Regional Manager (North East) for the Centre for Social Justice.

Common themes throughout the event were the importance of inclusive hiring practices and reintegration initiatives, as well as the positive impact Clean Slate Solutions is making on the community.

Jan Garrill DL, Development Coordinator and Advisor to the Clean Slate Solutions Board, was delighted the event was a success. She said: “This event was all about challenging perceptions and we’ve certainly done that; a post-event survey showed 86% of people were more likely to consider hiring a person with past convictions.

“For many, this event was an introduction to the work Clean Slate Solutions does and we hope to have inspired more businesses to support us in our mission of giving people a second chance.”

Clean Slate Solutions helps people with past convictions on their pathway to employment after leaving prison or a non-custodial sentence through their completely person-centred support. To remove any barriers to employment besides their conviction, initial work includes one-to-one tailored mentoring and linking candidates with services to ensure stability in housing and access to food. Once each candidate has been deemed ready to find and sustain employment, they work closely with employers to find a role which best suits the needs of both parties.

Established in 2019, the charity has helped over 300 people from Teesside and North Yorkshire into either employment or further education.

Richard Brice, Founder and Head of Operations at Clean Slate Solutions, is more aware than most of the difficulties facing people with past convictions in trying to reintegrate into public life when released from prison. He said: “When I came out of prison, I was lucky enough to have support to help me get back on my feet, but not everyone is as fortunate.

“We’re so proud of the work we do here, but we can only continue to help people with the support of businesses, either through donations or corporate partnerships. We would love to hear from any business interested in getting involved”.

Hugh Welch, senior partner at Muckle, is a Trustee of Clean Slate Solutions. He said: “Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to ex-offenders but, by finding employment for them, Clean Slate Solutions is doing excellent work to change that. Not only will employing ex-offenders plug significant skills gaps and improve the inclusivity of businesses, it also significantly reduces the chances of reoffending.

“That’s why it’s so important to businesses to support charities such as Clean Slate Solutions; to give more people the opportunity to change their lives for the better”.