Recycling workshops ‘break out’ of prison to survive lockdown

September 2020

Surviving lockdown was a matter of ‘make and break’ for our rehabilitation and recycling programme.

When prisons were forced to close their doors to the public at the outbreak of the pandemic, we were left unable to support hundreds of offenders and recycle thousands of waste electricals – halting a vital revenue stream overnight.

Our work in prisons, dismantling waste for the likes of BT and British Gas, in partnership with Recycling Lives Ltd, allows us to be financially self-sustaining while supporting the rehabilitation of hundreds of men and women.

Unable to work within the prisons, we were left with more than 200,000 waste electricals to process.

To help, Recycling Lives Ltd stepped in, offering up a warehouse space in its central Preston facility to accommodate a new recycling workspace. Within days of opening, our new workshop, was breaking and recycling 5,000 waste items each day, creating employment and volunteering opportunities for a dozen men and women in the community.

The workshop was a springboard for a number of those engaged, including four who were quickly hired into full-time roles with partner businesses.

Charity chief executive Alasdair Jackson said: “Our biggest strength has always been that we run our charity with a commercially-minded model, working closely with the business, managing contracts to make us financially self-sufficient.

“The business’s offering was a lifeline not just for these contracts but for some of our men and women, especially those who were released from prison shortly before or even during lockdown. The team have rallied round to make this work, both commercially and charitably.”

Gerry Marshall, chief operating officer for Recycling Lives Ltd, added: “We’ve all been faced with unprecedented challenges in recent months so it was our pleasure to be able to help the Charity to overcome this obstacle and continue to deliver its incredible support to ex-offenders. It’s great to see the space being used and lives being changed for the better.”

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