New project for Glasgow social enterprise which creates construction jobs for ex-offenders

photo-lives-w568h282Glasgow Together, a social enterprise dedicated to creating full-time jobs for ex-offenders by building new affordable homes and bringing empty properties back into use, has started work on its latest, and biggest, residential property conversion in the city.

With funding from Social Investment Scotland (SIS) and Robertson Trust, Glasgow Together has purchased, and achieved, planning permission to convert a substantial sandstone villa located in the Pollockshields West conservation area into three premium residential apartments.

The project will provide employment for up to five ex-offenders, who are actively seeking opportunities to get their lives back on track.

Cabinet secretary for finance and constitution, Derek Mackay MSP, visited the site at Nithsdale Road yesterday to speak with the team responsible for the refurbishment project.

Commenting on the work of Glasgow Together, Mr Mackay said: “The work of Glasgow Together is a great example of the kind of innovative partnership that can have a positive social impact whilst also delivering clear economic benefits, despite the tough economic climate, particularly in the construction sector.

“This model already has a successful track record around the UK, providing ex-offenders with a pathway back into meaningful work whilst supporting a commercially sustainable business model which is delivering high quality and affordable housing.”

Barry Mochan, chief executive of Glasgow Together, added: “Glasgow Together is without doubt the most exciting and worthwhile project I have ever been involved in. We’ve enjoyed a busy 12 months since launching and we’re now looking forward to embarking on this, our sixth and biggest, refurbishment project to date.

“Already we’re seeing the benefit of our work through the employment of local people with previous convictions, who now have an opportunity to get on with their lives and make a valuable contribution to society. Thanks to the ongoing financial support from SIS, Robertson Trust and JRF, I’m convinced we can have a major impact here in Glasgow.”

Glasgow Together was launched in 2015 with the ultimate aim of reducing re-offending rates, by building around 50 affordable new homes at a number of sites across the city, as well as refurbishing empty homes. The organisation has already carried out six projects in the city and employed six workers with previous convictions as well as numerous local tradesmen.

Although it’s still early days, the organisation currently maintains a 0 per cent reoffending rate and have successfully kept one employee from prison for a previous offence due to his continued work with Glasgow Together.

The organisation has been funded by an investment of more than £750,000 from leading lender to the third sector Social Investment Scotland (SIS), as well as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and The Robertson Trust. An additional £1.25 million has been invested through fundraising led by Triodos Bank.

Ex-offenders, including many from Barlinnie Prison, are being employed by Glasgow Together on both new build and refurbishment projects with roles lasting from 12 months or more. All employees are set tailored personal development plans; appropriate to their experience level before progressing to more complex construction tasks.

Glasgow Together is also working with current offenders serving a custodial sentence at Barlinnie Prison. Prisoners have the opportunity to gain unpaid work experience in the timber kit construction workshop and on release they will be considered as potential Glasgow Together employees.

Operating as a Community Interest Company (CIC), a special type of limited company that exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholder, Glasgow Together is part of The Together Social Business Group (TTG), which has successfully run two similar projects in Bristol and the Midlands.

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