Chamber members’ voluntary work recognised by Scottish Parliament
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:11
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce members who volunteer their time to help pre-release prisoners at HMP Barlinnie have been commended by the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Labour's Drew Smith, MSP, tabled a motion at Holyrood praising the efforts of those Chamber members who donate their time and skills to assist the city prison's Changing Lanes programme.
The Member for Glasgow's Parliamentary Motion received cross-party support from 28 MSPs including the SNP's John Mason, Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour's Hanzala Malik and Jim Hume of the Liberal Democrats.
In August last year, representatives from more than 40 member organizations visited the prison as part of the popular Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (GCoC) Behind the Scenes series.
During the visit members witnessed the Changing Lanes project first-hand and were so impressed several volunteered to become more involved in helping prisoners improve their employability prospects ahead of release.
Leona Seaton, Employer Engagement Project Manager at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, works closely with both the members volunteering and the prison's Changing Lanes team.
She said: "We know from evidence that ex-offenders are at the bottom of most employers' wish lists, but some of these men have great skills, attitude and enthusiasm.
"Getting a job would literally be life changing for them, their families and in some respects the wider community."
Delegates from Chamber member organisations now visit the prison once a month on a rotational basis to take part in simulated job interviews with prisoners as part of the nine-module course.
Chamber members also hope to integrate other work-related assistance into their roles including helping prisoners prepare CVs, workplace advice, understanding the job market and how to apply for jobs.
Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "The Chamber works with many organizations to provide jobs and opportunities for individuals within the city regardless of their circumstances.
"Our raison d'être is to stimulate the city's economy and through the diversity and skill sets of those Chamber members who volunteered their time to the Changing Lanes project, we are helping to provide prisoners with practical skills to help boost their prospects ahead of release."
Derek McGill, Governor of HMP Barlinnie, said: "Reducing reoffending is a key priority for the Scottish Government.
"Giving prisoners and ex-offenders work opportunities and work based skills can be a significant help to successful re-integration into to society. Initiatives such as this play a very valuable role in helping us to create a safer more inclusive Scotland.
"I am delighted with the potential benefits offered by this project. These opportunities could make a real difference to the lives of a number of families in the city, and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce members should be applauded for giving their own time to such a worthwhile project, particularly in these difficult times."
The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce members taking part in the project are Fiona Mackay of Kinetic Performance Ltd, Elizabeth Baker of Mitchells Robertson Solicitors, David Hoey of BTO, private consultant Christine Alexander, Andrew Mackie and Stuart Bryson of Aedas Architects.