MD of Ex-Offender Employment Company Named On This Year’s Churchill Fellowship List

Jacob Hill, Yorkshire’s Young Entrepreneur of the year, Ex-prisoner and founder of Offploy – an organisation that supports people with criminal convictions to secure employment has been named as one of 141 Fellows to receive the Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2020.

The Winston Churchill Fellowship was set up after the death of Sir Winston Churchill, as a living legacy to his leadership. Their aim is to empower individuals to learn from the world, for the benefit for the UK. The Winston Churchill Fellowship funds UK citizens from all parts of society in search of innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems.

Jacob will be using his time on the Fellowship to explore the criminal justice system in Brazil, Singapore and Fiji over two four week periods.

The first part of his journey will be spent living in Brazilian prisons understanding how a country which sees over 336 people imprisoned per 100,000 citizens (vs UK’s 140/100,000 and Norway’s 63/100,000) has created a community prison system that runs without prison officers and instead is completely run by trusted prisoners and volunteers from the local communities. These prisons run at a third of the cost of conventional prisons. It is Jacob’s ambition to find a way to replicate a version of this volunteer-run system here in the UK.

The second part of the Fellowship will be spent in Singapore and Fiji who have reduced their reoffending rate to 25.9% and 3.6% respectively through societal acceptance of people leaving prisons via the well-known Yellow Ribbon Campaign which involves a sponsored run around a prison every year.

Jacob’s ambition is to understand how these countries have taken an innovative approach to reduce reoffending and bring elements of their practice back to the UK to reduce reoffending and make our society safer.

On being award the Fellowship, Jacob Hill, Managing Director of Offploy said:

“Being released from prison, I wanted to dedicate my freedom to supporting others with convictions to secure employment. This helps me put my past behind me, gives the people I met inside who made terrible choices another chance, reduces unemployment in the UK and makes society safer – I am incredibly proud to play a small part in this.

This Fellowship means so much more to me than the ability to see best practice around the world, it represents a second chance to the 70,000 people being released from prison every year and the 11 million people with criminals in our community. It shows society that people with criminal convictions can significantly contribute to society, turn their life around and that everyone should be given another chance to become a part of their community.

I admire Sir Winston Churchill for his strength in the face of adversity and the ability to bring an entire country back from the grips of defeat in the great war. I hope to carry a bit of his flame on my travels and in my day-to-day life to do his legacy proud.

I am confident there is a lot to learn from other countries in the world on how to reduce reoffending through self-run prisons and societal acceptance. I will be documenting my journey on My Memorial Trust Page, Offploy’s blog, my LinkedIn and my twitter and invite everyone to join me on my exploration.”

Jacob’s Fellowship travels began in April 2020 and will be completed by March 2021. His findings will be shared in a final report and disseminated through several talks around the UK on his return.