Enterprise case study

Askham Grange Prison is part of the Yorkshire and Humberside Area in the Directorate of Operations. It contributes to the delivery of the Key Objectives of the Prison Service by delivering a national service to women prisoners (residents) and young offenders and offers the opportunity for up to ten mothers to maintain full-time care of their child or children whilst in custody. It is an open prison, which facilitates a comprehensive resettlement regime for long and, increasingly, short-stay residents. Key to the delivery of this regime and of primary focus to Askham Grange is the maintenance of decent and respectful relationships between all who live, work and visit here, and the community benefit of pro-social modeling. Support in achieving positive family relationships and learning is provided in parallel with educational and work skills and personal development.

Feedback from the event:


“knowing I can get help with everything that needs doing and there is support in the future too.”
“I have hopefully started my journey in business”
“listening to the other business owners and their journey’s suggested that I should go with my ideas and never give up!”

There are just over 1 million self-employed women in the UK a total of 24% of all self-employed people. (Economic and Labour Market Review 2007) The women who live in a rural area are nearly twice as likely to be business owners as urban women. (Stairways to growth: supporting the ascent of women’s enterprise in the UK, 2006).

A charity called Startup helps ex-offenders over the age of 30 to start up their own small businesses. As many ex-offenders find it difficult to gain paid employment on release from prison the charity offers support in setting up businesses as an alternative route to gaining income. They provide a non-repayable grant of up to a maximum of £1,500 which is for necessary tools and equipment as well as providing mentors to help for up to two years.

Learning and skills training is promoted within all areas of Askham Grange. An individual learning programme is devised during the Induction process. This programme is integrated into the Resettlement Plan with specific targets to prepare each resident for release into the family and back into the community. Plans are reviewed regularly. Training needs are met in the Education Department and across the varied work areas in the establishment. Individual potential is realised with progression through the resettlement regime and into community work and/or paid work placements that reflect the training and skills gained throughout the sentence as well as those already held.

Craven College has been delivering the “Catalyst” project at Askham Grange for about three years. The project delivers a range of courses and events with the aim of raising the aspirations and self esteem of residents, together with one to one support and information advice and guidance.

As part of the Catalyst delivery, an Enterprise event was delivered at the prison on Thursday 20th November 2008. This event was scheduled to celebrate Women In Enterprise, during the national “Enterprise Week” event and to raise awareness of residents of a forthcoming course “Is Enterprise For Me?”.

A number of external speakers were invited to present to the women prisons around Enterprise and starting up your own business. Theses speakers included; Business Link; Linda Sadler Bloodstock; Business for Breakfast; Granary Foods; The Dream P.A.

The women listened to a range of interesting case studies and experiences which provided both practical and inspirational advice. From buying and selling race horses and treating animal ailments via aromatherapy, to breakfast networking meetings, to a heart rendering tale of Christine Wallach and how she set up Granary Foods to the bubble Nadine Hill’s account of The Dream P.A.

Throughout the event the women participated enthusiastically and asked a range of questions of the speakers. At the end of the event feedback (see below) was obtained and many of the women signed up to the forthcoming course which is to be offered in January 2009. This four day course is set up to help women consider starting a business. The women work on a feasibility study during their time on the course which is their basis of perhaps a business plan further along the line. The course covers topics such as: the business idea, resources, market research and personal business skills. Many of the women were also speaking to the Education Officer at the prison, to set-up a personal meeting with a Business Link adviser to discuss their ideas.

In conclusion, the women in enterprise event, was very informative and received well by the prisons. It gave them the confidence to believe in their ideas and will hopefully allow them to develop entrepreneurial skills that will benefit themselves, their families, the local and national economy thus contributing to a positive society.

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