Plaudits for Chapelfield prison scheme

A project that brings prison inmates into a Norwich shopping centre for work experience has been recognised nationally for its achievements.

Chapelfield Shopping Centre's Custody and Community Project was highly commended in the Work Inclusion Category at a business awards show held in London's Royal Albert Hall.

Working in conjunction with Norwich Prison, the scheme was launched in 2009 and aims at helping serving prisoners find employment by giving them training and the opportunity to try their hand working in the centre.

Davina Tanner is the General Manager of Chapelfield Shopping Centre, and devised the project. She said:

'For the Chapelfield Custody and Community Project to have been recognised as one of the top two work inclusion initiatives in the UK really is incredible.'

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'It shows that innovative and impactful work inclusion projects can be delivered by any organisation of any size and recognises the hard work and commitment that everyone connected with the project, including our partner Norwich Prison, has put in.'

The project was one of three chosen as finalists in the category, which recognises companies that have supported people from excluded groups into employment and or increased their employability skills.

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Offenders get the chance to take part in an eight week work experience programme, where they work normal hours alongside Chapelfield staff in areas such as customer service, recycling and cleaning.

Of the 64 serving prisoners who have successfully completed the programme, Chapelfield has helped to secure jobs for 83pc of them.

Ms Tanner added: 'We know that we can't build a successful business without constantly showing our commitment to being a better business; being part of the wider community of Norwich and Norfolk is something we take extremely seriously. We've achieved very exciting results so far and the project is developing all the time.'

The awards took place on Tuesday and were held by Business in The Community, a charity with a membership of more than 850 companies.

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