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News 23 February 2021

Brent Bright Futures successfully supports ex-offenders towards employment

The Brent Bright Futures employment programmes has been described as a ‘top-ranking’ service by an independent evaluator commissioned by Brent Council.

The Brent Bright Futures employment programme has been described as a ‘top-ranking’ service by an independent evaluator commissioned by Brent Council.

Brent Council commissioned The Forward Trust to deliver Bright Futures with funding from the Department of Work and Pensions to support the borough’s Employment, Skills, and Enterprise Strategy 2015-2020 and the Safer Brent Community Safety Strategy 2018-2021. By providing specialist ongoing support, the project aimed to help ex-offenders in Brent find quality jobs, mentorship, and skills to re-engage the world of work.

Insights from the evaluation were discussed by partners and employers at a roundtable organised by Forward and Brent Council in February 2021.

Results included 57% of clients sustaining their jobs for six months and more. This makes it a high-performing programme relative to comparable interventions: for example, the government’s Work Programme helped 32% of long-term Job Seeker Allowance claimants aged over 25 sustain paid work for six months.

Other results included:

  • 100% of target for clients engaged achieved (45/45)
  • 117% of target for clients progressed into work achieved across hospitality, retail, social care, facilities management, construction and professional services (14/12)
  • 57% of clients sustained their jobs for six months and more
  • 14% of clients were still in self-employment
  • 67% of clients were long term unemployed and identified as the most difficult to progress into work

“Bright Futures was a well-run programme that successfully produced deliverables, despite the fact that a pandemic occurred in the middle of the pilot. Comparatively to other employment organisations evaluated by this same author, Bright Futures would rank near the top.”

John Rico, independent evaluator

Key insights

Success factors

  • Successful employability support for ex-offenders (often for six months or more) relies on building trusting, professional relationships and changing attitudes and mind-sets towards jobs or apprenticeships
  • Behaviours and soft skills are critical: for example, how to behave in a way that is expected of them in the workplace
  • Regular and frequent information, advice and guidance alongside careers advice is important for helping people progress in their careers and lifelong learning
  • Self-employment is a viable option but must be appropriately filtered for those clients that have the attitude and determination to succeed as entrepreneurs
  • Clients benefit from accessing complementary vocational training programmes such as the Adult Education Budget and Traineeships

Adapting to the pandemic

  • As illustrated by The Forward Trust through its work on Bright Futures, employability support has to adapt, using remote engagement platforms to maintain contact with clients during lockdown
  • Pastoral support including welfare checks, helping clients access food banks, debt advice and mental health services is also important to help learners to cope with the stress of lockdown

Influencing employers

At the roundtable, representatives from Nando’s shared their experience of creating an inclusive workforce which embeds social impact into hiring practices and staff development. Nando’s works with partners, including Forward, who have access to and specialist knowledge about excluded and disadvantaged communities.

“I am very pleased with this opportunity and grateful for your help and support. I really appreciate your support. I feel this is the perfect career path for me, thank you. My employment coach has been very patient and supportive with me, he has helped me until I was able to secure the kind of work I wanted”

Former Bright Futures client

To find out more about Forward Trust’s Employment Services and how we can work with you as a local authority or Job Centre Plus partner please contact