BUILDING BETTER FUTURES: How Optimum Skills are supporting prisoners at HMP Northumberland to optimise their potential

In a world that’s rapidly evolving, where innovation and progress are celebrated, there remains a corner of society often overlooked — behind prison walls. Imagine the transformative power of education, the spark of knowledge, and the promise of a second chance, all converging within the confines of prisons. Optimum Skills are excited to announce our new venture that aims to reshape lives and reshape the very landscape of rehabilitation.

It’s easy for society to relegate prisoners to the shadows, to dismiss their potential for change. However, our new initiative challenges these notions by recognising that education has the power to optimise potential, even within the most challenging circumstances.

This is a new initiative for us, and North of Tyne Combined Authority and we are extremely excited to get this journey started and complement an already well-established team in HMP Northumberland to support individuals, who seek redemption to build a brighter future for themselves within the confines of a prison.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with the North of Tyne Combined Authority, giving HMP Northumberland prisoners the skills and behaviours to help them secure sustained employment upon release, which in turn will help reduce the rate of re-offending and recall to prison.

Steve Kirsopp, Director of Optimum Skills

Our journey began with a mutual agreement between ourselves and HMP Northumberland to transform the lives of individuals in prison and provide an opportunity, through education, to make positive next steps following their release. Our unique selling point for Optimum Skills is our construction offer, we are among the leading specialists in brick, carpentry and joinery and roofing trades and this multiskilled offer is something that suits the prison with having an opportunity for learners to experience all 3 trades and then go with their preferred career option.

Bringing education into a prison environment isn’t without its hurdles. Tight security protocols, budget constraints, and scepticism about the effectiveness of education behind bars present challenges we’ve worked hard to overcome. Our overall intent of this delivery model is two-fold: to provide prisoners with access to quality education and to equip them with the skills and knowledge to enter society with a job offer or opportunity. Ultimately by fostering this approach we will not only contribute to the lives of those being released from prison back into society, but also supporting safer communities for all.

This project isn’t just focused within the prison, it extends beyond the classroom with wraparound care factored in following release. We are committed to offering each and every prisoner the opportunity of a job interview following release, in order to kick start their reintegration into society. We are also aligning support with additional qualification offers and housing support.

As we continue to grow this contract, we recognise the need for ongoing support both in terms of resources and employers to spread our geographical area to increase the number of opportunities to the prisoners. With that in mind, if you are interested in getting involved in this project and your company values align with ours to ensure we optimise potential of these individuals, please get in touch to express your interest to or