Visited an amazing #socent @Carlsheadfarm last week. Giving opportunities to ex-offenders to learn new skills in forestry and farming and supporting them to find work in the local area. Great success stories of young men who have turned their lives around, been given confidence in their own value and equipped with the learning and qualifications they need to gain employment. This is exactly what is needed to deliver the transformation of rehabilitation.
The challenge is to find the sustainable business model to enable this work to continue and grow. The budget to pay for the qualifications is no longer available. Carlshead Farm is being asked to provide work experience for less or no money and although some work can be done commercially this needs equipment and supervision which has to be paid for in some way. They have the offer of a seconded member of staff but have to find additional funds from somewhere else if they want to continue and not lose money delivering this valuable service.
They don’t want to be a charity, they want to be a social enterprise being paid for the work they do. If a grant-maker can help with some funding for capital equipment or the start up capital for a new part of the business that is fine as it enables the start up phase to be less risky but the ongoing revenue to sustain the business has to be enough to cover the costs of the commercial activity but also to pay for the additional training and supervision needed for working with people who may never have worked, may not have had any experience of a real work environment and are overcoming a lifestyle of criminality and all that goes with it.
Transforming Rehabilitation: A Strategy for Reform has some measures that should enable opportunities for Carlshead Care Farm and others to become subcontractors to large primes delivering probation contracts but it is a long and perilous journey before an actual contract might materialise and after that an ongoing risk to make sure that the targets are achieved.