City & Guilds Foundation - Rehabilitation Collaboration Event

On 28 February the City & Guilds Foundation brought together industry leaders and representatives from charity partners to build relationships and share insights and experiences of promoting education and training in prison.

15 March 2024

Working with prisons to deliver training that helps break down the barriers that prison leavers face is an important part of City & Guilds’ work both in terms of qualification delivery and assessment and through financial support from the foundation and hosting this event provided a vital opportunity to engage with organisations and individuals who share the same goals.

Rehabilitation event image

The City & Guilds Foundation

Founded in 2019, the goal of the City & Guilds Foundation is to amplify the purpose of City & Guilds, helping even more people to access skills development opportunities that could change their lives. With this aim in mind, the Big Idea Fund was created, dedicating £1m to removing the barriers preventing prisoners and prison leavers from accessing training and education that will support their rehabilitation and help them to find employment and successfully readjust to life outside of prison.

Since its inception this Fund has supported multiple different organisations, delivering training in areas like construction, green skills, painting, decorating, hospitality and catering while also working towards the development of wider employability skills that will help individuals to succeed in their work and lives on release. Polly Rowe the City & Guilds Foundation explained the value of seeing the bigger picture when it comes to learning and development. “Jobs are great. That's a really good outcome if people come out and get jobs. But there’s a lot more particularly post COVID to be done around the softer skills that people need. Confidence, well-being, resilience and just having somebody holding their hands. It's okay getting them into a job, but to sustain that job is hard - the world is much bigger when you're outside the gates.” 


Collaborating with purpose

One of the biggest takeaways from the event was the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to learning and development and Polly explained the challenges that prisons face in making time for training. “The regime is so strict and Governors and Officers have to make sure the basics are done – so is everyone showered, have they got their visits, have they eaten, who needs to make phone calls? Education or training can become hard to slot in. So our aim is to make sure that the programmes we’re funding are as purposeful as possible to help them be a necessary part of the regime.”  

For prison governors facing this time pressure and a host of other barriers to success, identifying the right training programme is vital. One view put forward during the event was that education is the final piece of the jigsaw in creating an environment where inmates feel empowered to make improvements to their lives both while in prison and upon leaving. Finding the right piece means ensuring that education and training programmes have genuine impact on the individuals undertaking them. 

Continuing to support prisons and prison leavers

Rehabilitation event imageWhen this event was organised, it was with the goal of building relationships amongst the charity partners to ensure that everyone was able to be as efficient and effective as possible, as Polly Rowe commented. “The idea was to bring together all the different charities and organisations that we'd funded through our Big Idea Fund and basically allow them an opportunity to network, collaborate, share ideas, share frustrations, and ultimately leave with a sense of right, we're in this together. How can we help each other? We’ve built a reputation for the quality of our training and qualifications, how can that be combined with other organisations’ resources or expertise?

Working with prisons and charities based within the estate and through the gate, is a clear opportunity to realise the purpose City & Guilds was set up for more than 145 years ago. Skills development has the power to change lives and by collaborating with individuals and organisations who share this same vision, it’s possible to enable genuine, impactful change. This is important for the individual in Prison, organisations who will have the opportunity to fill skills gaps using this talent pool and ultimately, for the whole of society. To date, for every £1 the City & Guilds Foundation has spent on its Big Idea Fund programmes, over £18 of societal benefit has been created.  


By equipping prison leavers with the tools that they need to build rewarding lives on release, and by strengthening bonds with employers and other wraparound services that can provide support, the accessibility and quality of prison education can continue to be improved. 

Find out more about the work that the City & Guilds Foundation supports here