We’re Ruth and Dan and together we founded DWRM in July 2020. DWRM is a social enterprise aimed at increasing opportunities for further and higher education for people in prison and on release. We bring both expertise in facilitating learning and experience of studying in prison, and combined this feels exciting.
We first came across The Forward Trust when Dan met Carl Stickley, and then Stephen Anderson, in HMP Hollesley Bay back in early 2020. At that stage we were in the process of writing our business plan and developing a financial forecast. We had to be quite determined to do this as Dan was still in prison so we relied on calls from the phones on the landings and on post to communicate. It was tough and we were so grateful for the friendly support and encouragement from Stephen. Stephen also put us in touch with Tev, Head of Enterprise at Forward, who spoke to us about further ways we could access support from The Forward Trust.
There are so many challenges when starting a new business and it was great to be able to discuss these with others who were in the same boat.
We discussed how Forward’s Enterprise Services could advise and support us and decided to run a Crowdfunder campaign, which received match funding of £2500 from Forward as part of their Forward Enterprise Fund match funding scheme. These funds really helped us get our business off the ground. Apart from receiving support from Stephen, Tev introduced us to the wonderful Genna Dempsey, Senior Grants Officer at Forward. Genna gave us loads of helpful advice about fundraising, sharing links to possible trusts to apply to, talking us through the application process and offering suggestions on our applications. We were successful in receiving £27,000 of grant funding (the result of many hours of applications to multiple organisations) in our first year of operating.
There are so many challenges when starting a new business and it was great to be able to discuss these with others who were in the same boat. We have attended several online networking and training sessions run by Forward and we always enjoy learning from this community, including the relaunched Enterprise Club.
We look forward to engaging with Forward further as our business continues to grow and flourish
Our model of peer mentoring for people released from prison and of promoting study to enable people to develop strong career pathways is clearly aligned with the values of Forward, as is our commitment to employing people with convictions. We have now recruited a board of directors to provide strategic planning and financial oversight, and are very proud that over 50% of our board have direct lived experience of the Criminal Justice System and its services.
We look forward to engaging with Forward further as our business continues to grow and flourish.
Forward’s Enterprise Coach Stephen helped me with all aspects of setting up my business, including funding advice, where to find resources and networking opportunities.Tinyan O, Forward Enterprise client Read Tinyan’s story