Who we are

We are a small dynamic team, with backgrounds in business (Rothschild Asset Management) and the voluntary sector (Women in Prison & NACRO amongst others).

What we do

The support we provide to our clients includes:

  • Business planning support whilst in prison developing ideas and plans
  • Startupnow Days hosted in prisons, inviting clients to present their ideas to a panel of business experts for advice and potential financial support
  • If the business idea needs researching prior to starting the venture
  • Direct grants (this financial backing is only ever given in the context of our other support)
  • Provision of personal Peer Mentor Manager, based in London,  for each client to access as required. This service is available  to each supported client for a year after they become self-employed
  • Access to our central database of business information and advice from our panel of senior business advisers (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Grenfell)
  • Design and printing of promotional material: as our clients open the door to their home on release day their business cards are on the mat
  • Regular workshops, drop in clinics and peer-led meetings to facilitate peer support.

Who do we help?

We provide support for offenders, ex-offenders and anyone who has come into contact with the criminal justice system and has found it to have an impact on their chances of employment. We have contact with potential clients and support staff in all the prisons across the women’s estate and selected men’s prisons around the country.

The need

Each year more than 80,000 prisoners are released from prison but nearly two thirds of them will have re-offended within 2 years. We know that there are many factors contributing to this re-offending that include family, social, educational and work problems. One of the real tragedies from this re-offending is the loss of the ex-offenders’ potential contribution to society and the damage to their families and children.

It is easy to understand why re-offending can occur as people often leave prison with no money, no car, no bank account, no job and no references. Startup hopes to help ex-offenders solve some of these problems by becoming self-employed, giving them a real chance of a fresh start.

Our solution

We provide focused, caring and consistent support, both financial and personal, that will reduce re-offending by enabling ex-offenders to become self-employed.

We treat ex-offenders as valued clients and to use our best endeavours to help them return to a positive and productive life where they will add value to society.

How we achieve this

Our model of support is unique in that we provide seamless support for Clients. We work with them whilst still in prison and continue to support them for at least a year once they have become self-employed. Our Clients are intrinsically involved in the development of their idea for self-employment; we are not interested in imposing our ideas on them, but rather in facilitating their own. The Startup model has been developed with ex-offenders and offenders directly contributing ideas, helping plan services and developing a peer network of support.

To date we have advised over 1000 prisoners and ex-offenders and supported 230 Clients into self-employment. Our Clients are inspirational. They have often surfaced from immense challenges and yet are already proving that they can become successfully self-employed whether they offer web design, plumbing, gardening, beauty or hairdressing services, commercial cleaning, sign writing, personal fitness training and more.

We aim to ensure that our clients:

  • Do not re-offend
  • Achieve their personal goals (as agreed with mentors)
  • Are able to be self-employed in net profit on a sustainable basis.
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