Taking time with Tempus Novo

Taking time with Tempus Novo

Through a strange set of circumstances, I found myself, around this time last year, having a drink at the central criminal court of the Old Bailey. While a grand and marvellous building I was much more interested in my company, two larger than life characters in the form of Steve and Val, a pair of straight-talking ex-prison officers from Yorkshire. Having spent between them somewhere in the region of 6 decades on the landings or dealing with prisoners they certainly know their stuff when it comes to the rehabilitation of offenders, and they’ve turned that wealth of experience into a powerful vehicle for change: Tempus Novo.

In brief, Tempus Novo is a charity (which recently won an award from the Centre for Social Justice) which places ex-offenders, after release, into full time paid employment. There is also a minimum of six months personal mentoring provided alongside the job which is vital for preventing reoffending and supporting offenders to reintegrate in the community. The official process is a stringent vetting of current/recently released offenders and connecting those who make it through with employers in the local community. I learned the ins and outs of how the organisation operates when they were kind enough to invite myself and another Unlocked Graduate up to their base at HMP Leeds earlier this year.

Since being founded five years ago with the help of charity President and former Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken, the charity has managed to place just under 300 offenders into work with only around 15 returning to custody, a vast improvement on the national average which sees around 60 per cent of offenders being reconvicted within two years. All this despite working with some of the most challenging PPO’s (Prolific and Priority Offenders) who frequently have cost the taxpayer millions of pounds (from the cost of the crime, arrest, conviction and imprisonment) and committed a huge number of offences. The group of 70 placed in employment in 2017 had a total of 1000 convictions between them!

Tempus Novo won’t however be resting on their laurels as they’re currently preparing to export the bespoke, personal and sustainable employment model around the country, with a potential new office to open in London soon. As well as this they have been engaged with Unlocked. Two of our officers took work placement within Tempus Novo to really get to grips with the issues and challenges of offender rehabilitation and employment.

I once heard ex-Prisons Minister Rory Stewart say that there was no one solution that would work for 100 per cent  of offenders, but that there just might be 100 solutions that could work for one per cent. Tempus Novo is a fantastic example of just such a project which has focused on a specific issue and done a cracking job dealing with it, securing real change and positively impacting on a huge number of people.