Sudbury Prison

The logistics sector has a big issue with talent shortage, particularly for LGV Drivers (Category C and C+E license holders). Road to Logistics saw a huge opportunity to both solve this problem whilst helping people to change their lives. Unlike many blue-collar jobs which offer minimum wage and 0 hour contracts, lorry driving is a true profession that offers really good salaries, allowing people to climb out of poverty and reduce the risk of re-offending. Therefore in 2017, Road to Logistics began a project at Sudbury Prison to train residents to become lorry drivers.

We began by running market awareness sessions within the prison, to educate residents about the logistics sector and do some myth-busting around the role of a lorry driver. A lorry was taken onto site so that the prospective learners could start to get a tangible understanding of the profession.

From this session, around 50 people registered their interest who then went through a screening process. We worked closely with the prison stakeholders to create a structured recruitment process where alongside the required legal elements such as having no more than 6 points on your license, potential trainees were rigorously screened on behaviours to ensure we felt that they have the right mindset and focus to complete the course, and a genuine desire to change their lives through being a lorry driver.

We selected 6 people to go through the process with. All of whom we felt were authentic in their desire to change their lives.

As well as the standard theory and practical training, we introduced a number of other classroom-based modules to ensure that the learners had a much broader understanding of the industry they were coming into, as well as teaching skills such as map reading to ensure our new drivers would be self-reliant and not dependent on technology.

Employability training was key to the program; a few of our learners were repeat offenders and had not held down a structured, full-time job for most of their adult lives so as well as teaching skills such as CV writing and interview techniques, we also talk about employee etiquette, and create toolboxes for the new drivers to draw from in the event that they faced obstacles to getting to work such as money problems, no transport etc.

Finally, and a pivotal part of why our programs are so successful, was the one-to-one mentor support, underpinned by peer support.

Each of our learners is treated as an individual. They are given a bespoke pathway based on their own unique situation, and as part of the screening process, Road to Logistics is able to ascertain any reasonable adjustments that may need to be made, either for certain conditions such as learning difficulties or neuro-diversity and mental health disorders.

We create safe learning environments where we use techniques to build rapport not just between Road to Logistics stakeholders and the learners, but also between the learners themselves. Having this peer support is invaluable as confidence is garnered through shared experiences.

Our learners are made aware from day one, that they are able to speak in confidence to their Learning Mentor about any issues which may be worrying them or getting in the way of their learning journey. This support carries on throughout their program, and beyond for up to 12 months post-placement.

We ensure all of our programs are tied to specific employers, tailoring the training where appropriate to the needs of the employer, ensuring that our learners are getting relevant training that benefits both them and the employer once they start working.

In this case, the employer was Brit European, who not only offered interviews and ring-fenced vacancies for this scheme, but also offered work experience and took part in workshops as part of the classroom-based training.

Our employer partnerships are an intrinsic part of the success of our programs, we believe in our learners having as much contact with the employer as possible, with the aim of boosting confidence and reducing any stigma felt by the learner, about having a criminal record.

The program was highly successful, with all 6 participants passing their C+E license and entering employment with Brit European.

As Sudbury is a Cat D prison, the learners were able to complete their training whilst in the prison walls, and actually work during the final year of their sentences, through ROTL.
This allowed their transition into civilian working life to be very smooth and effective. In prisons where ROTL is not available, we conduct all of the theory and classroom-based training in the prison walls and then book tests and interviews as close to the release date as possible.

5 years on, our drivers have continued to thrive in their new roles.

One of our drivers has gone on to run his own haulage business and has an Operators License for 6 articulated lorries.

A second, John, had had a particularly tough life when we first met him. A childhood of poverty and neglect saw him enticed into a world of drug-dealing from his teenage years, a repeat offender, John wanted to change his life but needed help to be given the tools he needed to do so. John did need a bit of extra support, failing his test the first time, Road to Logistics coached him through the second test, understanding that the failure was mainly to do with confidence as opposed to skill. John had a bit of a bumpy road adjusting to working life, but with the support of Road to Logistics who not only helped John acclimatise, but worked with the employer to ensure the right reasonable adjustment were made for him, he managed to settle into his role and 5 years on is absolutely thriving. He sent us the following quote:

“Life is really good for me at the moment I’ve come a long way and it all started because you guys took a chance on me. The role (as Lorry Driver) is going great and I also mentor and do driver training for the guys on the Brit academy as a secondary role which is a part of my job which I have the most passion for. Thanks to the team at Road to Logistics and if you ever need any help at RtL I will always offer my hand you guys literally helped turn my life around and I’m forever grateful. John.”