As part of our social value initiatives, Willmott Dixon Interiors have worked with the Ministry of Justice to deliver a programme to prisons within Leeds and Wandsworth to help support those looking to develop new skills and potentially start a new career within the construction industry.
Focusing on Women in Construction in Leeds
In Leeds, our social value team worked with cohorts of inmates to deliver a programme with a focus on Women in Construction at HMP New Hall.
New Hall is a women’s prison and women often think of construction as a male focussed sector but Willmott Dixon Interiors are keen to change this view and make it clear that our sector is open to all with roles for everybody.
The cohorts of learners were taken through career journeys from some of our people at Willmott Dixon Interiors, providing insight into the transferable skills they have gained along the way as well as the various Routes Into Construction.
A session on Me PLC formed part of the programme, where inmates thought about, discussed and wrote down the skills and qualities they can bring to an employer. They then went on to write an elevator pitch about themselves that they can use in any future job interviews.
Jayne Anderson, Social Value Manager at Willmott Dixon Interiors said:
“This programme delivers high impact social value and supports those facing significant barriers into being on the path to good careers. It is a fantastic way to inspire, work on building confidence and focussing on the skills and qualities the women are able to offer an employer.”
Continuing our programme at HMP Leeds
We also attended some sessions at HMP Leeds following the success of the HMP New Hall programme.
HMP Leeds is an adult male prison in the Armley area of Leeds. Our team which included Jayne Anderson, Chris Hall and Stuart Dack delivered a two day programme to 2 cohorts of inmates, which consisted of the below:
- Interactive session: This was an interactive tower building session, where inmates were paired up to design their tower from the equipment provided. They then swapped plans and built a tower designed by another pair. This session is based around communication, teamwork and provides an element of fun to engage the inmates.
- Routes into Construction: The team provided an overview of the various roles available in the construction sector, with some of our team providing first-hand details of their career journey and experiences.
- Strengths, skills and qualities quiz: The third session had the cohort taking a quiz to find out what their strengths are as well as what kind of team-mate and leader they are. This generated thought and discussion around the skills they already have that an employer would see as valuable.
The inmates were lively and engaged throughout and we look forward to returning to work with HMP Leeds on more programmes like this.
Working with Wandsworth Prison
Willmott Dixon Interiors have been working with HMP Wandsworth since the 2nd May 2022. Our partnership focuses on supporting men who are coming up to their release date, allowing our social value team to work with cohorts of men who have either an interest in construction or are open to any type of work.
During our first session we delivered a workshop to 24 men who are soon to be released from prison; we shared an introduction to Willmott Dixon Interiors and provided information about the different Routes Into Construction and our supply chain partners.
The session then looked at how to create a good CV and how to prepare for an interview. The team discussed what questions employers might ask and the best way to answer difficult questions.
Following a successful first session, Willmott Dixon Interiors were invited back to host some positive and supportive one to one mock interviews with a small cohort of men who were about to be released. There was an opportunity for the interviewees to ask questions as well, allowing for an open and honest dialog and building positivity and confidence.
Lili Bidwell, Accelerator Employment Advisor said:
“Thank you so much for coming in yesterday. It was a brilliant session with some great takeaways for the men who attended. I genuinely think that those one-to-one conversations can prompt real change in an individual’s mindset.”
Our prison programme has been a great success across all the locations, and our team have found it an inspiring and motivating experience helping others to develop new skills and providing them with more opportunities to find a sustainable and enjoyable career.
Our team will be visiting HMP Wandsworth with further sessions and will also be working with HMP Brixton and HMP Wormwood Scrubs going forward.