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Apr 22, 2022
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Ex-offenders clothing range Blank Canvas opens Westfield Stratford pop-up

Apr 22, 2022

A unique prison rehabilitation programme has established the UK’s first clothing brand created by young ex-offenders.

Blank Canvas. Image credit: IshaQ Raymond

And that has given the prison leavers who created the first range the chance to retail the line at the Blank Canvas pop-up store at the Westfield Stratford mall in London until 28 April.
The clothing range consists of a 13-piece collection of branded hoodies, hats, T-shirts, face masks and bags.

The initiative from social enterprise body Inside Out and supported by LinkedIn has brought together recent prison leavers aged 18-27. The group, who have all struggled to find employment, received training and mentoring as they look to secure career opportunities.
Specifically, the group was taught technical skills, like screen printing and design, and were also supported to develop their business skills, such as sales and marketing, and build essential soft skills — including teamwork and problem solving. 
Additionally, as part of the social campaign for Inside Out, Linkedin has produced a two-minute social film, documenting the journey the young prison leavers have been on, as they prepare for the launch of their clothing brand and a fresh start.
Inside Out project founder Greg McKenzie, said: “Unemployment rates for former prisoners are much higher than among the wider population, even 10 years after release. But there is a positive correlation between employment and reduced reoffending, which shows the need for proactive policies to ensure more prison leavers are able to access job opportunities and the tools and training they need to succeed. This is what Inside Out is all about.”
Zara Easton, Head of Brand Marketing, UK at LinkedIn, added: “By giving these young prison leavers a second chance to demonstrate their potential we can start to remove some of the barriers they face and empower other young ex-offenders to make a fresh start. LinkedIn is providing training and mentoring to help them build skills and find long-term employment opportunities as part of our wider ambition to create a more inclusive workforce for everyone. Together with the founders of Inside Out, we wanted to develop a campaign that brings to life their new beginnings, and shows how we can help create that opportunity through the power of connections.”

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