Construction contractor partners with the Scottish Prison Service to run employability programme
McLaughlin & Harvey is providing accredited employability sessions to residents of the Bella Centre in Dundee - Scotland’s first community custody unit for female prisoners.
To help their preparations for release, McLaughlin & Harvey is running its ‘Be Your Best’ employability programme for the Centre’s residents. The nine-week programme helps the women with personal evaluation, job searching and networking, writing a CV and personal statement, interview skills and mock interviews. Once they have completed the course, the women will receive an SVQ Level 3 qualification.
The aim of the Bella Centre, which opened on 1 August 2022, is to mix traditional custodial sentencing with reintegration into society for female prisoners approaching the end of their jail terms. Housing up to 16 low-risk individuals, the secure facility is designed to look as little like a prison as possible and is based on shared house-style living with no high walls or barred windows.
Through construction projects in the local area, including at the James Hutton Institute, McLaughlin & Harvey became aware of the Bella Centre and its goal to create positive support networks within the Dundee community.
Jane Elder, Social Value Manager, McLaughlin & Harvey, said:
“We approached the Bella Centre to offer our support and were delighted that they were keen for us to run our employability programme with some of the residents. The programme aims to develop core employability skills through an accredited qualification, giving participants the fundamental skills to search for and find a job when released. To be able to work with the Centre, the first-of-its-kind in Scotland, is an honour, and we’re proud that we can partner with and support The Scottish Prison Service’s Strategy for Women in Custody.”
Gordon Weir, Unit Manager at the Bella Centre, said:
"Having Jane work with our residents is exactly the type of community engagement we at Bella have set out to achieve. This partnership working helps to prepare our women for a return to the community with new and useful skills, that some may never have had previously, to give them the best chance at securing employment in the future".