27th July 2020

SUEZ shortlisted for social value award

SUEZ has been shortlisted for the MRW National Recycling Awards in the Social Value Initiative category for their work with New Futures Network and Her Majesty’s Prison Ford on a programme that provides employment and training for offenders while also helping reduce waste by refurbishing bicycles.

Within 18 months, the programme diverted 6.3 tonnes for reuse, provided training for 30 offenders and full-time employment for seven.

In 2018, SUEZ Surrey began speaking to New Futures Network about opportunities to work with HMP Ford on upcycling materials, using their on-site workshops to repair items discarded at community recycling centres so that prisoners can learn valuable skills and more materials can be put back into use through the Revive reuse shops. However, SUEZ quickly saw the potential to have greater impact and help break the cycle of repeat offending by also offering employment on waste transfer stations and community recycling centres to eligible offenders, creating multiple paths to employment following release.

During the initial trial, SUEZ hosted interviews and offered three work-placement positions to offenders in addition to beginning a bike repair trial with the Leatherhead community recycling centre and Revive shop. The offenders were fully vetted, inducted into the company, and given on-the-job training, being treated like any other employee. Meanwhile, bicycles discarded at the CRC were sent to HMP Ford’s workshop where they were stripped, repaired and returned to the Revive shop in a great condition ready for sale.

Now 18 months on, the initiative is firmly embedded within SUEZ Surrey. In 2019, SUEZ refurbished the prison workshop, doubling the number of workbenches available and allowing more prisoners to learn mechanical skills. The bicycle scheme was expanded to all Revive shops and SUEZ interviewed 89 prisoners, offering work placement to 19. In 2019 alone, the HMP Ford workshop refurbished 314 bicycles, putting them back into use through the Revive shops.

Gareth Swain, Regional Manager – Surrey for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “Employment is so very important as part of the rehabilitation programme and so our work with offenders aims to give them valuable work experience and qualifications, as well as building self-esteem and confidence. Sustainable development and social value are part of the DNA of our business and we are honoured to be nominated for a National Recycling Award in the Social Value Initiative category.”

James Palmer, Senior Employment Manager for New Futures Network, said: “SUEZ is a great example of how day release can result in employment for offenders. This initiative has encouraged other large employers, prisons and offenders across the country to follow suit and explore more opportunities for employment and training.”

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