World-leading metal recycler EMR has invested £40,000 to create a new workshop facility at HMP Forest Bank, providing key skills and employment opportunities to prisoners as they prepare for release.
Working with the prison’s operator, Sodexo, EMR is providing up to 15 prisoners per shift with the opportunity to join a unique team separating the tyres from wheel rims, a vital step in the process of sustainably recycling end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). The team can separate over 1,500 tyres per week, ensuring that the material can be reused or recycled and contributing to EMR’s mission to be a global leader in sustainable materials.
The scheme, which accepted its first team members in May 2021, has taken careful planning by both EMR and prison staff to implement and was the result of initial discussions with Sodexo’s Head of Learning and Employment, Steve Jones, in 2018. By collaborating on the training, support and educational opportunities that come with working at the site, EMR is committed to helping Sodexo enhance the quality of work available to prisoners at HMP Forest Bank.
The EMR-branded workshop is open Monday to Friday with two teams working on alternating shifts. Prisoners are supervised by EMR-trained Sodexo staff.
A series of bronze, silver and gold certificates allow prisoners to show progress during their time working on the EMR initiative and three individuals have risen to the position of team leader since the scheme started in May.
EMR and Sodexo employees have also supported prisoners in developing the skills needed for the interview process as well as offering help in CV writing. These skills are fundamental to ensuring effective rehabilitation.
As the scheme develops, EMR is keen to offer employment opportunities to prisoners who show a high level of commitment and the right attitude during their time at the workshop.
As well as providing an introduction to the recycling industry, the scheme aims more generally to get team members ready for the world of work upon their release. A proportion of the wages earned while working for EMR are kept back to ensure that, upon release, prisoners have a financial cushion to find accommodation and begin the process of rebuilding their lives after completing their sentence.
Located in Greater Manchester, HMP Forest Bank holds adult men both on remand or sentenced and young prisoners between the ages of 18 and 21 years of age.
Rowland Cooper, Director of Human Resources at EMR, said:
“I’m really proud to reveal the new EMR site we’re operating in HMP Forest Bank today. The workshop, which opened in May, is already helping to sustainably process the wheels and tyres from thousands of end-of-life vehicles. Just as importantly, it is providing prisoners with valuable skills, a chance to return to the world of work and a foot in the door of the recycling industry.
We really want the prisoners who work with us at HMP Forest Bank to feel part of the wider EMR family so, from the logos on their uniforms and the branding on site – right down to the mugs they use when they’re having a well-earned break – this facility looks and feels just like any other of our sites around the UK.
We’d also like to thank Sodexo which, alongside providing us with a team of committed employees who have been trained up on how to run a busy EMR site in a prison context, has also built and prepared a modern workshop facility for the prisoners to use.”