Crowdfunding bid to help ex-offenders into work

Ipswich businessman Ian Bacon has launched a campaign to raise £20,000 to help ex offenders start their own businesses.

Mr Bacon, director of recipe pack and snack food firm Easy Peasy Cooking, is off to the House of Lords to share his idea with other organisations, in a meeting hosted by Lord Beecham.

Mr Bacon said: "The meeting includes representatives of the Ministry of Justice and other organisations involved in the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

"For many offenders finding work when they come out of prison is very difficult. They are at risk of ending up back in prison.

"People like Timpsons, Greggs and Virgin are already doing some great things. This is another step forward."

Easy Peasy Cooking already has production and packing for its recipe packs in Wakefield women's prison and is in the process of setting up production for its Bonkers snacks in Cardiff prison.

The £20,000 crowdfunding target would pay for training for four people as to work as initial representatives, he said.

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"They would each have their own area and be able to operate from market stalls and pop-up shops. They would receive training, stock and support. We will also pay their rent for six months for market stalls or pop-up shops," he added.

People who support the project with donations could get rewards in return, he said, such as their own recipe kits, and pasties and herbs and spices.

For larger donations they can choose to have meals in one of four prison training restaurants, known as The Clink, in Brixton, Cardiff, Sutton or Styal prisons.

"These restaurants are highly rated and people are training for catering jobs on their release from prison.

"Many people who are pledging are not taking rewards but one has already chosen to take a prison restaurant meal."

The plan was to use the £20,000 to support four regional representatives, probably in East Anglia, the Manchester area, Yorkshire and Wales.

"We will be taking referrals and hope to start interview in July," he added.

These new distributors would have Easy Peasy products and could stock items from other firms such as H.M Pasties of Manchester, which employs ex-offenders."

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