The Escape Route is a niche charity that helps prisoners become self-employed. There's a reason for this: if you have to declare a conviction, you're unlikely to get a job. But if you're self employed, clients tend not to ask.
With two thirds of prisoners being back in jail within two years of release, this failing represents a major cost to themselves and to society. The two main factors that affect recidivism are a lack of housing and a lack of employment. The Escape Route aims to tackle the latter by showing ex-prisoners how to work for themselves.
Self employment is not a panacea. It isn't suitable for everyone. But it's widely recognised that many prisoners are entrepreneurial, and may be able to channel their creativity into legal methods of earning a living.
While there are several charities that encourage prisoners to become self-employed, only the Escape Route provides ready-made trades.
We provide simple packs (our Escape Plans), that show you how to work for yourself, using specific low-cost or no-cost trades and professions. Each Escape Plan includes a video interview with an ex-prisoner who is now working for themselves.
We focus on trades with low costs of entry such as window cleaning because most prisoners come out of jail with little money and little access to credit.
Our packs are currently used by 19 prisons in the UK, as well as individual ex-prisoners.