Beyond the gates: supporting women back into work

How your expertise in employee development and recruitment can help someone to re-enter the workplace and thrive.

Use your expertise to mentor women in prison

Are you a CIPD member looking to use your unique skillset and experience to support a female mentee as they transition to life and work outside of prison? Are you based within travelling distance of HMP Styal in Cheshire?

Re-entering the workplace can be daunting for someone with a conviction or other experience of the criminal justice system. We are delivering an innovative new pilot with HMP Styal and funded by the City & Guilds Foundation, tackling the barriers that women face as they leave the prison system and secure sustained employment. Your knowledge and experience could make all the difference.

Evidence shows that employment plays a significant role in reducing the chances of re-offending and the New Futures Network found that ex-offenders who find employment are 9% less likely to re-offend. However provision to support women is historically much lower than that offered to men. We want to shift this imbalance starting with our work with HMP Styal and we need your support to make this happen and create systematic change.

Mentoring will involve at least three visits to HMP Styal before your mentee is released (likely to be fortnightly sessions at 2-3pm on a Thursday). Following release you will meet your mentee in the community every 2-4 weeks for around six months as you support them with their job search.

Interested in getting involved? Register your interest

Frequently asked questions

What would I need to do?

You’ll mentor a woman with a conviction as they approach their release date and prepare for life outside the gates. Using your skills and experience as a people professional, you’ll support your mentee to develop the confidence and employability skills needed to find a job upon release and thrive in their new role.

How much time will it take?

You’ll meet with your mentee around three times at HMP Styal in the lead up to their release. The mentoring relationship will then continue, either in person or via phone call, at regular intervals for approximately another six months as your mentee seeks, and secures, employment.

You will also need to attend a three hour online training session.

What skills or experience do I need to become a mentor?

You’ll be a HR professional familiar with different elements of recruitment or supporting others in their job search. You will be able to offer practical advice and support alongside building your mentee’s confidence as they prepare to apply and interview for roles. You’ll be a sounding board when they secure a job and begin to navigate the challenges of working life.


You’ll be able to create an environment where others feel safe to admit mistakes, ask questions and share ideas. We’re looking for CIPD members who work in Human Resources or Learning and Development at any level.

What are the benefits of becoming a mentor?

Being a mentor is a brilliant way to develop your own skills: from brushing up on the practicalities of a job search through to refreshing your listening skills and ability to instil confidence in others. Choosing to work with a person with convictions will provide you with a better understanding of the barriers that jobseekers can face and may even equip you with new skills and a fresh perspective to take back to the workplace.

What else do I need to consider?

You’ll need to be happy to be DBS checked and live within travelling distance of Wilmslow, Cheshire. You’ll need to commit a couple of hours of your time, every two to three weeks across a 6-9 month period.

What if I can’t travel to HMP Styal?

You can read more about our work with people with convictions and register your interest in getting involved here:

Support people with convictions into work

CIPD Trust wins funding to support women leaving prison into work

CIPD Trust, HMP Styal and the HMP Styal Employment Advisory Board secures funding from City & Guilds Foundation’s Big Ideas Fund. 

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