Virgin Trains to boost recruitment from UK prisons

Ruth Doherty
Virgin Trains to boost recruitment from UK prisons
Virgin Trains to boost recruitment from UK prisons

Virgin Trains is reportedly set to hold regular recruitment fairs in prisons to find new employees.

The recruitment drives at UK prisons are for staff to work on the West Coast rail route between London and Scotland.

There was a recruitment fair at Addiewell Prison, West Lothian, this week, and recruitment fairs will be held every three months across UK prisons.

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The train operator started recruiting people with criminal convictions back in 2013 in a bid to help end reoffending, but is now keen to double the number of staff it recruits from prison, reports the Telegraph.

Speaking to the site, Kathryn Wildman, head of recruitment on the West Coast route, said: "We started this process three years ago with relatively modest ambitions. But we've been really pleased with the calibre of candidates we've managed to attract through prison recruitment events and our wider ex offenders programme and so we've decided to incorporate these into our regular calendar of recruitment events."

According to the BBC, she added: "This isn't just about helping society and giving people a chance to turn their lives around. It's hiring the best people no matter what their background is.

"We'd urge other employers who might be thinking about this to give it a go."

The site explains that Virgin Trains has partnerships with HM Prison Service, the Scottish Prison Service and private prison operators to work with inmates who are coming to the end of their sentences.

There are currently 27 people working for the rail operator who were recruited through the programme.

One former prisoner, a former Scots Guard who used to carry out ceremonial duties in London, said taking part in the scheme had changed his life. He said: "I'd say personally it's given me a lot more confidence than I had at the start. I'm really enjoying it. It's given me a chance to change my life."

He added that he had been in and out of prison a couple of times, and said: "I've left a couple of times with nothing so this has given me a chance to support my wee boy again and given me a better outlook on life, and just hopefully people will give me a chance."

Scotland's Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP told "Supporting people into work when they come out of custody is an essential part of their reintegration, and helps to reduce the chances of them offending again.

"We are working with the public sector, including the Scottish Prison Service, and private businesses to make it easier for people with convictions to find employment.

"Virgin Trains are very supportive of this work and I am delighted to hear of this latest partnership with HMP Addiewell to tackle the barriers which prevent people from turning their lives around."