A Peterborough businessman is helping prevent prisoners return through the revolving door of jail when they are released - by giving them job opportunities.
Hotelier Gez Chetal is working with a number of jails in the East of England - including HMP Peterborough - to find staff for his firm and other companies, and help the prisoners have a stable life upon their release to help them go on the straight and narrow..
He launched the Prismstart scheme, and said he was impressed with the candidates he spoke to.
Mr Chetal, executive director of Trust House Leisure, said: “I got involved with the Department for Work and Pensions within the prisons as a hotelier always finding it difficult for skilled staff.
“I had a recruitment agency in Bucharest for a few years bringing over catering staff but because of Brexit I gave it up.
“I went to a few prisons, including Peterborough, where I found that there were so many talented people sitting behind bars with good skills.
“I now work with five prisons including Peterborough to rehabilitate and get prisoners qualified before release and get them into work with some accommodation when they are released, so that there are less opportunities to re-offend and go back into prison.”
Mr Chetal has been working with his wife Rosy on the project using their own funds, and have had a number of success stories - with the success spreading through word of mouth leading to legal teams for other inmates asking about how to get involved in the project.
Damian Evans, HMP Peterborough director, said he was delighted with the impact Mr Chetal was having on inmates.
He said: “Mr Chetal visits us frequently and interviews candidates that are soon due for release.
“He is impressed with many of the candidates he sees and has been able to offer employment opportunities or further support for them to gain employment on their release; he has even placed two of our ex-residents into employment within his own company.
“Mr Chetal’s role in enabling ex-offenders to move into meaningful work is vital support for residents who are developing skills whilst serving their sentences and want to secure sustainable work on their release from HMP Peterborough.
“We are always happy to engage with employers and hold employer engagement events in the prison where companies can visit and find out more about how they can help offenders build better futures for themselves.”