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North Bridge refurbishment offers opportunities for prison leavers

In March 2018, the City of Edinburgh Council approved an investment of £22m to refurbish North Bridge.

Balfour Beatty was appointed the lead contractor – with works procured through Scape Group’s National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework – in Summer 2018 with work starting shortly afterwards. From the outset, Balfour Beatty and City of Edinburgh Council were committed to leaving both a legacy for the bridge and local community through the project’s Community Benefit commitments.The Balfour Beatty Project Team considered several priority groups, including People with Convictions, that they wanted to support throughout the duration of the project.

Over the last year, several agencies including Access to Industry and Department for Work and Pensions have worked closely with HMP Edinburgh to deliver CSCS qualifications to prisoners due for release within six months - this has seen 72 prisoners gain their CSCS qualification since May 2017. HMP Edinburgh further developed their relationship with the construction industry when they hosted the prison’s first careers fair in May 2018.

Mobile Testing

The provision of CSCS within HMP Edinburgh has been possible through the commitment of partners and joint working with Scottish Prison Service to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place. CITB visit HMP Edinburgh with their mobile testing unit every month.

Cllr Kate Campbell, Housing and Economy Convener, said:

“Community benefits, achieved through procurement processes, are a key part of delivering our objectives in line with our economy strategy. Employment is a key part of an individual’s release from prison. It’s positive that we’re able to work with partners to deliver projects like this that will help us to maximise benefits for everyone in every community, support our inclusion agenda and promote employability for all.”

Through their supply chain, Balfour Beatty worked closely with their subcontractor, Network Scaffolding, to offer People with Convictions guaranteed interviews and two weeks work experience. Candidates were then offered a subsequent three months paid employment followed by an Apprenticeship. While supporting People with Convictions hasn’t been without its challenges, to date, six prison leavers have been employed by Network Scaffolding at the North Bridge site.

Supporting Rehabilitation

Balfour Beatty Managing Director of Scotland and Ireland, Hector Macaulay commented

“As a Major Contractor, Balfour Beatty are committed to delivering social value on our projects. We continue to support SPS in their employability objectives, providing training, work experience and employment opportunities for current and ex-residents, which in turn enables us to build a diverse workforce. Balfour Beatty recognise that stability of employment is one of the key areas to support someone’s rehabilitation.”

Balfour Beatty are grateful to the commitment of their supply chain. Whilst the six employees from HMP Edinburgh gained valuable work experience with Network Scaffolding and Balfour Beatty, one of the candidates, David Irvine demonstrated an exemplary attitude throughout his placement and was offered a permanent vacancy with Network Scaffolding as a trainee scaffolder. David’s line manager, Patrick Farrier said:

“When David first came to us through Balfour Beatty and Scottish Prison Service (SPS) we supported him to overcome his initial barriers and with support from us all, he really flourished in his new role. David demonstrated a real willingness to work and learn, we gave him harness training and he progressed from work experience to a trainee.David has been put forward for his COTS course and First Aid training. He is now a recognised site First Aider. I fully expect to see David continue his development and become a fully qualified scaffolder with Network Scaffolding.”

This article was original published in the March 2019 edition of Working Capital. To view the full publication, view will open in a new window).

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