When experienced hotelier Gez Chetal stepped inside a prison for the first time he says he found it ‘a real eye opener’. Far from the ‘lock up and leave’ ethos he expected, the commitment to education, training and reducing reoffending inspired him to set up his own programme to help prisoners into work on release.
He now works alongside a number of prisons and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) in his local area – including Sodexo’s teams at HMP Peterborough and Norfolk & Suffolk CRC – to offer employment opportunities to residents on release.
Gez Chetal has 35 years’ experience in the hotel industry, spending 20 years with the Trust House Forte chain before moving to start his own successful chain of hotels.
He now owns a hotel in Thetford and was inspired to act after months of struggling to find staff. “I started working with the Department of Work and Pensions who suggested that ex-offenders could be a route to recruitment,” said Gez. “I came to realise there is a lot of talent in the prison population.”
Gez started visiting various prisons in his local area with his wife on a regular basis and interviewing people due for release about potential employment prospects.
Inspired to do more, the couple then looked to secure funding to set up an official programme, and PrismStart was born. Gez engaged with MPs including Dominic Raab, Liz Truss (pictured with Gez) and David Liddington to get high-profile support and has linked up with charities including the Princes Trust and St Michaels Hospice, who work with ex-offenders to reduce reoffending.
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We are pleased to be able to work alongside prismstart and offer our support around their ongoing initiative. It has been very interesting to see first-hand along with Gez and Rosie the training and opportunities that could be made available for people to enable a successful transition into work.
Interconnect Design Ltd understand the need for local support for schemes such as PRISMSTART and applaud their ex-offender programme. We fully support the opportunities that are given to the users of the scheme, to change their lives in a positive way helping them to get back into work and re-start their careers.
We are proud to announce that Bespoke Hotels has partnered with PRISMSTART to support their ongoing work around the Ex-Offender Programme, which both assists and changes the lives of individuals who want to undertake work and further their careers.
We are delighted to be joining forces with a range of other national companies from a variety of sectors, united by a shared ambition to generate positive change.
Zack FM in Mildenhall offers it's support to the PRISMSTART programme. As a community based Radio Station we understand the need for local support for schemes such as this and fully support the opportunities which are given to the users of the scheme to change their lives in such a positive way and get back into work.
Unique Bar in Newmarket is proud to support PRISMSTART and applauds their ex-offender programme which aids their users to change their lives and get back into the workforce. We fully support the program and thank PRISMSTART for this opportunity to be involved.
Thetford businessman, Gez Chetal, discusses his project, Primstart, to train and rehabilitate ex-offenders and fill a skills gap in the job market.