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In London (Friday 22 September) the inaugural Tapping into New Talent conference, spearheaded by The Corbett Network, Nacro and Dominic Headley Associates (DHA), underlined the importance of employers including people with convictions within their workforce.

Employers from a diverse range of sectors throughout the UK attended to hear first-hand the real benefits that come from employing people with convictions and the positive effect it has on their companies.

The audience also comprised key policy makers from various government departments including the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Ian Bickers, lead of the MoJ’s Education and Employment Strategy, introduced the audience to the New Futures Network, which aims to increase the number of employers working in partnership with prisons and to ensure that the education and training delivered in custody will improve job opportunities on release.

The conference, hosted by Eversheds Sutherland, featured an expert panel of senior executives representing organisations that employ people with convictions, including Alasdair Jackson, CSR and Sustainability Director, Recycling Lives; Kathryn Nethersole, Property Project Manager, Tideway; Geoff Webb, Operations Lead, Millmoll Ltd; and Kelly Carrell, Co-Founder, Census Group. These employers outlined the positive experiences they have had and spoke of the value and productivity brought to their workforces by hardworking and loyal staff.

Corbett Network members who deliver training and support programmes for people with convictions – including Fran Findlater, CEO, Bounce Back; David Apparicio, CEO, The Chrysalis Foundation; and Jane Gould, CEO, Clean Sheet – introduced people they have supported, who spoke to the audience openly and honestly about how they were helped to re-join society.

Tapping into Talent also had presentations from Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Professional Services, REC, about their Good Recruitment Campaign; Dominic Headley, Director, DHA, who gave an interactive legal briefing on recruiting safely and fairly; and Greg Mangham, CEO, Only a Pavement Away, who outlined the benefits of their innovative approach to meeting the business needs of the hospitality industry through inclusive recruitment.

Lady Corbett, founder of The Corbett Network, said: “The Corbett Network is dedicated to reducing reoffending. We support people with convictions to find and keep a job. This conference persuaded employers that people with convictions, grateful for a chance to change their lives, worked harder and were reliable, loyal employees. There is much still to do but it is a start.”

Dominic Headley, Director of DHA, said: “My legal briefing included a call to the government for a complete overhaul of the criminal record disclosure regime and for Ban the Box to become law. We have a societal and economic need to remove all unnecessary barriers that prevent people with convictions moving forward with their lives.”

Caroline Drummond, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Nacro, said: “For us, employment is at the heart of supporting people to move forward with their lives, whether that is someone who has just left prison or someone in the community. It was fantastic to see so many employers engaging at this event and we look forward to working with them in the future.”