Tuesday 24 April 2018

Fancy an ice-cream served by ex-prisoners? A group of students are hoping to help people get back on their feet after serving time

Kathy Armstrong

Fancy an ice-cream served by an ex-prisoner? A group of DCU students are hoping to encourage business

Second Scoop, a project born out of the Enactus programme in DCU, is an ex-prisoner work programme in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s, providing ice-cream for corporate events, festivals and fairs.

In September the team had their first public event with ex-prisoners serving customers on South William Street in Dublin city centre.

Enactus Ireland is one of 36 country organisations around the world that operates the programme, which promotes social entrepreneurship.

Daniel Kyne from the group explained that Second Scoop was designed to reduce recidivism rates and also to help people with a criminal record boost their chances of securing long term employment.

Second Scoop uses both "soft skills bootcamps" and a work experience model to achieve those aims.

"We sell Ben & Jerry's, the ex-prisoners come along and they get paid the living wage for their time and it also gives them a reference that they can go to future employers with," Daniel said.

"What we really want to bring about is more 'ice-cream Fridays'. We would like to see some of the companies around Dublin bringing in Second Scoop once a month or every two months on Friday,"

"We select ex-prisoners purely from their interests in participating in Second Scoop and to kick-start their lives after prison," Daniel said.

At the moment the group only works with ex-prisoners who were imprisoned for non-violent offences.

"When it comes down to the soft skills that's really where you see the root problem. Things like self-confidence, time management, effectively planning out your goals or self presentation. It's really the sort of skills that are needed to be able to hold long term employment, to be able to manage relationships with others in your life, to be able to set goals and plan out you own career development," he said.

"A lot of the workshops available to prisoners are very skilled orientated so we want to be the first step in developing those soft skills first before they move on to further training or development in the workshops that are already out there," he said.

"We've had one corporate event so far and thy really loved having us in."

One of the ex-prisoners who is taking part in the scheme is Mark Warner (34), who has been in prison several times for burglary offences.

The Dubliner explained that after a troubled childhood he started stealing  at a young age and developed a drug habit in his teens, becoming addicted to substances like heroin and crack cocaine.

Mark hasn't been in prison for three years and hasn't touched a drug in three months, he said that he was put in contact with the Second Scoop team through the Care After Prison scheme and is turning his life around.

He has nearly finished a course in secondary school teaching and said that Second Scoop has helped rebuild his confidence.

He said: "They (CAP) basically gave me a kick up the bum and made me believe anything I set my mind to.

"When I go to CAP it's like walking into a family home, they do their best to help people who are in jail.

"I would recommend programmes like Second Scoop because you've more of a chance of succeeding in their life with their help, they give you so much support and structure, it really helps your confidence.

"I could never have believed before this that I could do anything other than jail, it's all I had known.

"I want to give back to CAP and contribute to society.."

At a recent academy serial entrepreneur Daniel Ramamoorthy (DanRam) addressed the group of ex-prisoners, speaking about internal and external confidence which was something the group really benefited from Daniel said.

Enactus DCU, consists of five other team members in addition to Daniel, Lucy Mangan, Mairéad McDonough, Matthew Hewston, Margaret Hanlon and Aideen Foley.

Enactus DCU won the Irish leg of the global competition and went on to compete on the global stage at the Enactus World Cup, in London.

The team have three projects: HeadstARTS, a programme which provides weekly classes in Dance, Drama, Music and Art for people with intellectual disabilities, which is being franchised around the country; Well On The Way, a social enterprise providing business apprenticeships to asylum seekers and Second Scoop, an ex-prisoner work programme in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s, providing ice-cream for corporate events, festivals and fairs.

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