Travelling to the US – Researching the Offender to Entrepreneur Journey

David Morgan our IOEE Member of the Year gives us an insight into his upcoming Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travels.

Wow! How time has flown. Where has the year gone so far? Back in February this year I was given the amazing news that I was to become a Fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. I was successful in applying for a travelling grant to visit the US and explore how organisations support prisoners and returning citizens to develop their entrepreneurial skills and be able to set up their own businesses to lead a crime free life. With the re-offending rates being similar to that of the UK, I was really keen to learn of the programs and success stories and be able to bring that knowledge back to the UK.

Working for Novus, the largest provider of education in prisons in England has given me a fantastic opportunity to be able to work with men and women that are looking to a future of self-employment. Over the last 6 months I have been researching organisations across the US that have amazing stories to tell and I am putting together the last pieces of the jigsaw as I will be heading off in September on this inspiring journey (no pun intended). It’s been a massive learning curve in researching and developing a network of like-minded individuals that operate in different time zones! Thank goodness for the internet. Fellows have been travelling for over 50 years all over the world, no idea how they managed to plan their trips.

I’ve had to get to get a grip of my social media skills (still pretty lacking) and started on Twitter a few months ago and now even have started an online blog. I’ve been Emailing, Tweeting, Skyping and LinkedIn networking as well as being on Facebook to get in touch with the right people. It takes a long time and a lot of patience but in the end the effort will be worth the reward. After all that effort I have been rewarded with offers of meetings all over the US. My travels will take me to New York, San Francisco, Omaha in Nebraska, Washington DC, Raleigh in North Carolina and the last leg back up to New York where I will fly back the UK at the beginning of October. I’m told that’s over 12,000 miles of travelling. I will be visiting a number of prisons and organisations in these areas so it really will be a case of trains, planes and automobiles.. and a good deal of walking too. The organisations that I will be meeting up with include those that work with men and women whilst still in custody that support the development of their skills through academic and vocational learning. This includes being part of enterprises that generate income that can be re-invested for social purpose.

There are also some organisations that work with returning citizens in their local area and offer business workshops, access to mentors and advisors to start and grow their business. There are even people that have grown and been able to take on additional staff with similar backgrounds so expanding that second chance opportunity. Whilst I am away I will be posting updates on my Twitter @dmogDavid, my blog will be linked to this too. You can expect to see updates on my journey over the following months in Think Enterprise. Upon my return I’ll be working closely with the team at the IOEE to share my findings and look for opportunities to be able to turn the research into reality. Finally, if you think a travelling fellowship could be of interest to you take a look at the Trust’s website www.wcmt.org.uk or look at work that Novus do at www.novus.ac.uk