Why are we doing this?
While the significance of employment to desistance is well established, there are numerous and varied obstacles to people with convictions accessing and sustaining work. Over 38% of men and 9% of women in Scotland are estimated to have at least one criminal conviction (McGuinness et al., 2013); a large proportion of people are, therefore, affected by the impacts that contact with the justice system has on access to employment and, relatedly, opportunities to move on from offending. Social enterprise and cooperative structures of employment can circumnavigate some of the systemic obstacles to employment, such as criminal records and employer discrimination that people routinely encounter. Yet, not only are such structures providing paid work a rarity in the UK justice system, their potential has hardly been explored. The Scottish Government (2016) has recently co-produced, with the social enterprise sector, a ten-year strategy to encourage the further development of the sector and contribute to an overarching ‘inclusive growth’ agenda, demonstrating considerable appetite for an evidence-informed approach for this demographic.
How are we doing this?
We have been funded by the Scottish Universities Insights Institute to host a suite of knowledge exchange events and activities which will enable us to bring people together to share their learning, experience and expertise. This is critical to not only establishing this network but to ensuring that by sharing the learning, we can translate this learning into action. We are hosting three events between October 2018 and March 2019, each building on the last, to explore how such structures can be developed and to what effect. You can find out more about these events on our resources page. We are also hosting closed online discussions via this website in November, 2018 and January, 2019. We see these events and activities as the beginning of a conversation on which we will build. If you want to get involved, feel free to contact us (details below).
What do we want to achieve?
- to examine ways that social cooperatives/enterprises, as a manifestation of coproduction, can support social integration, recovery and desistance;
- to develop a coherent multi-disciplinary theorizing of, and strategic approach to, the development of social cooperatives/enterprises in supporting work generation, meaningful work activity, and integration for people with convictions;
- to take the learning from established social cooperatives/enterprises internationally to inform the development of future structures of employment in a community justice context in Scotland, and beyond;
- to identify the potentials, opportunities, tensions and challenges in developing social enterprise/cooperative structures of employment in a community justice context in the UK, and to explore mechanisms for establishing their value and social impact; and
- to forge and deepen links between policy, practice and academia through close engagement between participants throughout the project to form a sustainable multi-disciplinary, international network.
Our collective aspiration is to encourage and realise the development and embedment of social cooperative/enterprise structures of employment in community justice in Scotland, and beyond, to achieve the aforementioned policy and practice impacts.
How can I get involved?
If you want to learn more about our programme of work, come along to our events, participate in the online discussions or simply join our active and growing international network, please get in touch with us:
Beth Weaver firstname.lastname@example.org