Focus areaSocial lending
Investment typeEnterprise debt
Many people in the UK face complex barriers when trying to access work. This is especially true for individuals from marginalised backgrounds, including care leavers and those people trapped within the criminal justice system. Statistics show that only 17% of ex-offenders find a job within the first year of release from prison, and because of this many ex-offenders end up reoffending. However, those with a job are up to 9% less likely to re-offend.
In addition to this, a third of UK business have said that they struggle to fill skills gaps in their workforce, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
New Leaf started in 2014 in Birmingham, to support people facing complex barriers to work. The organisation’s mission is to use staff’s lived experience to engage with people who are still trapped within the criminal justice system (and wider communities), to help them stabilise, upskill, and find employment, as well as enabling them to speak their truth to power.
New Leaf offers a path of rehabilitation which starts with helping clients to stabilise within the community. The organisation helps to connect clients with mental health or substance misuse services, should they require support, as well as providing ID, support with benefits and debt, clothing and food parcels. Clients are then supported with ‘upskilling’ where they are helped to develop the necessary skills for employment.
In 2023, New Leaf launched their ‘Ethical Recruitment Agency’ to provide clients with specialist employment support and to help local businesses access a diverse talent pool. Businesses pay New Leaf a recruitment fee for finding suitable candidates for job vacancies as a typical employment agency would, whilst helping businesses to achieve their social value requirements in hiring people from diverse backgrounds.
The business case is supported by recent statistics which claim that 86% of employers who have hired an ex-offender, stating that they are good at their job. Additionally, nine out of ten employers reported that diverse recruitment has improved their reputation.
Since 2014, New Leaf have helped over 1300 people with their rehabilitation services, 82% of which have accessed the organisation’s stabilisation support, with many more receiving upskilling and employment support. 58% of trainees on the programme have gone onto find paid work.
‘It is the responsibility of the third sector to think how we can become sustainable and manage our money in our own right like a business, but still having a community heart and focus. And this is what social investment will enable us to do - to become self-sustaining and independent so that we can continue to do the Governments work for them in supporting the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in society to progress in life’.
Marie-Claire O’BrienCEO at New Leaf Initiative CIC