The Paul Ramsay Foundation has provided the grant, payable over three years, to support the registered charity’s social enterprise Mates on the Move to help tackle the barriers to employment for people leaving prison and open new opportunities for meaningful work.
“This grant is a huge boost to the Prisoners Aid Association as we grow Mates on the Move into a sustainable business providing ongoing, meaningful employment for former prisoners,” said PAA Acting CEO Margaret Anderson.
“The funding will also help launch our revised Mates for Life community reintegration program for people exiting full-time prison and returning to community living.”
Mates on the Move is a social enterprise providing employment, training, work experience and practical help to people who have been incarcerated.
It predominantly offers a niche waste management service, contributing to the circular economy by collecting single-use coffee cups and paper towels, which are taken to a facility which re-engineers them into Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF). Polystyrene and container deposit scheme bottles and cans are separately processed.
PRF’s Head of Employment Josephine Khalil highlighted that the Foundation was proud to support PAA’s valuable work in building the pathways for people leaving prison. Fewer than 1 in 4 (22%) people exiting prison have paid employment organised to start within two weeks of their release.
“Employment is a critical factor in preventing future contact with the justice system, but we know there are substantial barriers for people leaving prison which often hinder their access to meaningful jobs,” said Khalil.
“We’re pleased to help grow the impact that the Prisoners Aid Association is having through Mates on the Move and Mates for Life, supporting them as they support more people on their reintegration after prison.”
Mates on the Move is proud to have a wide number of building owners and managers as partners, collecting waste from organisations including Mirvac, Investa, Charter Hall, and Westpac. It is collaborating with Bingo Industries, Cleanaway, ResourceCo, Doyle Bros and Sydney Waste in the waste management industry.
“The Paul Ramsay Foundation understands the need for social enterprises to become sustainable and to deliver social impact, with real outcomes. We are so grateful to have this remarkable opportunity,” said Social Enterprise Operations Manager Lois Dillon.
Mates for Life offers former prisoners up-to-date life and work-ready skills to build the tools, resources and confidence to navigate healthy living in the community. Competencies are developed in digital and financial literacy, health and wellbeing, and gaining and maintaining a job.
Mates for Life will initially operate in Sydney with the goal for regional expansion.
Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.