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Helping Ex-Offenders

5 April 2011

Costain is giving a helping hand to ex-offenders who want to get back into mainstream society.

The move comes as London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, urges companies to take on young people – especially offenders – when carrying out major projects in the capital.

Launching the programme, Johnson said: “I’m asking the construction sector to get on board and offer our young people real opportunities on the abundance of exciting construction contracts we have in the capital.” He made the point that there were good economic, as well as social, reasons, for taking on those who have had a brush with the law.

“Ex-offenders deserve a second chance to turn their lives around and make an honest living,” he said.

“In these tough economic times it’s hard for everyone out of work, but teenagers with criminal records often hit a brick wall. For every person we keep out of prison we potentially save taxpayers £50,000 a year. I commend the companies already making great progress and encourage all firms to help us cut crime and offer work to ex-offenders.”

A plethora of major projects are underway both in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics and beyond, such as Crossrail, the Thames Ring Main sewerage system and improvements on the Tube network.

Costain is playing its part with the first of what are intended to be several places offered to young ex-offenders, said Corporate Responsibility Manager, Catherine Warbrick. Shingai Musonza has just started work on the Crossrail tunnel portal project at Royal Oak, just outside Paddington.

He got the job after completing the ‘Get Into Construction’ (GIC) course organised by the mayor and charity The Prince’s Trust.

Musonza said he’d liked the idea of working in construction for some time, but hadn’t known how to go about it. GIC had given him the necessary basic skills – in areas such as safety, manual handling and several other aspects of construction – to turn those wishes into reality.

“I was really happy when I found out I got the job. It’s really suited to my skills and I love being outdoors doing something hands-on.

“I believe that everyone can change, no matter what their background. I’m so grateful to have been given a second chance.”

Adds Warbrick: “With this initiative, we’ve got this one person at the moment, but we’ve committed to offer opportunities to six young ex-offenders over the next six months as a pilot scheme and we’re looking at widening that.”