Students from The Dickson Poon School of Law are mentoring ex-offenders as they develop and launch their own businesses. Now in its third year working in partnership with the Resume Foundation in Peckham, the current programme has been revised and renamed Project Venture, supporting former prisoners to rebuild their lives.
Employment is one of the most important factors in reducing reoffending. However, figures from the Centre for Entrepreneurs show that just one-third of prisoners find formal work within two years of release, with many keen to run their own business. By contrast, around half of the graduates from the programme last year are now trading and none have reoffended.
The project uses entrepreneurship to empower former prisoners while connecting them with King’s students who have the potential to be the legal changemakers of the future.
Obi Dominic, a programme graduate from 2018, runs Obi Consultancy, a motivational speaking and life coaching business. He said, ‘My business is developing well. I had a very good student mentor. You need someone to say, “Come on, we can do this – and this is how we can do this.”’
Professor Elaine Player, Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice in The Dickson Poon School of Law, highlights that Project Venture not only supports local communities but also impacts students’ learning. ‘The mentors learn the difference between how the criminal justice system should work in theory and how it is actually experienced,’ she said.
Second-year Law student, Estella Kothe-Evans, agrees, ‘We’re learning from the experiences of real people, not just reading about legal cases on paper.’