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Businessman’s scheme helps ex-offenders to find employment

PUBLISHED: 13:48 20 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:48 20 April 2018

For the past two years Thetford businessman Gez Chetal has been helping to facilitate employment opportunities for those who are about to leave prison.

Along with his wife Rosy, Mr Chetal, who owns the Thomas Paine Hotel, started Prismstart and has been running the scheme on a voluntary basis.

Working with four prisons in Norfolk and Suffolk, the project provides training sessions in work ethics, CV writing and interview and presentation skills, for offenders in the last eight to 10 weeks of their sentence.

The pair find suitable work placements which could eventually lead to employment opportunities.

Over the past two years, Prismstart has built a close relationship with 10 firms and the initiative has helped 21 people, with six going on to find full-time employment.

“The biggest thing is they have ex-offender written on them and they find it hard to get work,” said Mr Chetal. “We help rehabilitate them and get them ready for when they come out of prison.

“This entity is designed to provide work experience and work placements when people are released from prisons to help stop them reoffending.

“It helps provide them with self confidence, self-motivation and a will to carry on in life and for there to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Mr Chetal has been funding the project himself and is now looking for funding opportunities to enable the project to keep going.

The 51-year-old said: “Without the funding it would stop. I have been doing it for two years from my own pocket. I have proved it works. The biggest thing we do is give support when people are released.”

Prismstart works closely with the Department for Work and Pensions, job centres, and local probation services.

Mr Chetal, who is the director of Trust-House Leisure, is now looking to focus on helping to stop people re-offending, by working with Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company (NSCRC).

Pete Mangan, director of NSCRC, said: “Together we are working closely with key local organisations and businesses to establish a new project which will make communities safer by reductions in offending by those offenders who commit the most crime.”

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