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Blue Sky Development & Regeneration

Blue Sky Development & Regeneration is a not-for-profit company established by the charity Groundwork Thames Valley. It was set up to give paid work to people coming out of prison, to enable them to move successfully into long-term employment.

Blue Sky is a social enterprise established in 2005. Recognising the impact that having a job has on an individual's potential to escape the cycle of re-offending, Blue Sky sets out to do this in the most direct way possible. It takes ex-offenders on, providing them with "a proper job in a proper company". As such, it is probably the only firm in the country for whom a criminal record is a prerequisite for, rather than a barrier to, employment.

Blue Sky undertakes grounds maintenance work in municipal parks and open spaces. It wins its work in competition with the private sector. In its short lifetime it has provided jobs to nearly 150 people, making it one of the country's most prolific employers of those with a criminal record. Nearly 50% of its recruits leave to a permanent job and the re-offending rate among its alumni is lower than 16%, against a national rate of 60%.

Blue Sky has helped guide me away from crime and drugs. I had skills before I started breaking the law, but in that way of life you forget about the basic stuff. Blue Sky helped to pick up the pieces, almost like starting from scratch, re-learning them. Blue Sky has helped change my life; itís the only thing that ever worked for me.

It started in West London and by winning more work has since expanded to the Thames Valley and West Country, where it has contracts in Gloucester, and Bristol. It is also working with the regeneration charity Groundwork Manchester to establish a franchise operation there. Its aim is to create a programme with a national reach. Simultaneously it is working with the waste management sector to develop a recycling capability, which again will be exclusively for ex-offenders.

Although Blue Sky has a big vision, it is still a small company and cannot employ all the people it would like to.  Team members must live locally to the areas where Blue Sky works (Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough, Gloucester and Bristol).  If applicants are successful at interview, they should move quickly through the waiting list before joining the team on a six-month contract.  Training will be given, together with the opportunity to get qualifications, and support in gaining further employment. 

For Blue Sky, quality of delivery is a pre-eminent duty. This is a two-directional obligation. First, to our employees - our reason for existing. But also to the organisations that contract with us; only through the work they ask us to do can we employ our people. So quality of delivery is an absolute. This has a reinforcing effect on our teams, who take real pride in a job well done.

The social enterprise is passionate about both employing people with a criminal record, and seeing them change their lives. It is keen to work with those agencies who share our values and can complement our work.

Blue Sky is a wonderful company. It helps people in trouble, provides a reference: it rescues you from the Ďrubbleí.

I never saw a man who looked with such a wistful eye,
Upon that little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky.

from Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde

Blue Sky logo

Just look at Blue Sky Development. Itís the only company in the country where you need a criminal record to work there. That ex-offender may have a problem with alcohol, may be finding it hard to get a place to live, may have a child. Thatís at least three government departments responsible for him. At Blue Sky, heís got the focused attention of one place with the ideas and compassion to help him turn his life around.
David Cameron MP, in an address to the Social Enterprise Coalition

At work with Blue Sky
At work with Blue Sky

For information contact Mick May, Founder & CEO on 01895 839848, or go to