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Forklift truck manufacturer supports job prospects for prisoners

OFFENDERS looking to secure a brighter future for themselves with employment after their release from prison have received a boost thanks to a Northamptonshire-based forklift manufacturer.

Linde Material Handling, which has a depot at Wellingborough, has partnered with the new HMP Five Wells to open a workshop where prisoners can learn a trade on a scheme similar to an apprenticeship.

HMP Five Wells, on the edge of Wellingborough three miles from the Linde Material Handling depot on the Finedon Road industrial estate, is the UK’s first purpose-built resettlement prison. It is operated by private security company G4S and opened last year at a cost of £253 million. It houses up to 1,680 low-risk male prisoners, all of whom have been transferred from other prisons as they approach the end of their sentences.

The prison is fitted with 16 classrooms and 24 workshops in which offenders can learn the skills they need to find workplace opportunities after their release. The Linde workshop offers a full day’s work preparing some of the firm’s small truck range for a typical range of tasks.

Lauren Wren, Linde’s depot manager for its Region East depot, set up the partnership with HMP Five Wells’ business enterprise and community manager Paul Cunningham after learning about similar projects involving their customers.

Linde is a global manufacturer of forklift trucks and warehouse trucks and provides intralogistics solutions and services.

Each prisoner chosen to join the programme first undergoes a thorough screening process and is supervised by G4S prison staff who have completed the necessary training on Linde’s forklift trucks. He then undergoes a stringent assessment before being offered day-release at Linde MH’s workshop. The Release on Temporary Licence programme, which aims to facilitate the rehabilitation of prisoners, gives participants the opportunity to qualify in much the same way as through the company’s apprenticeship scheme.

“I look forward to the day when we employ someone from this programme,” said Ms Wren. “I have been overwhelmed with the support from everyone – the management, field and workshop engineers all playing their part.”

One inmate, who is planning a career in commercial tyres, said: “There are not enough jobs out there and the ones that appeal need qualifications, which cost money. This course gives me a huge chance and I could not let it pass.

“I have a little boy waiting for me and I want to make him proud of me. If I can have a career in the commercial tyre world, that would be incredible. It is something I now want to do.”

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