Project information

Startupnow for Women

Startupnow for Women enables women offenders to make a fresh start by opening avenues to self-employment. We offer experienced business advice, mentoring and financial support to women who find employment on release from prison very difficult & are at high risk of reconviction when leaving prison.

April 2011 - April 2013

Charity information


Startup logo
  • Need


    Women in prison are often marginalised in society; many find it hard to find employment on release. This can lead to increased recidivism & adds to the challenges that women, (family relationships, self- esteem and motivation) face.
    The OMG to working with Women (May 2008) states that 'getting offenders into appropriate sustainable employment is one of the most important factors in helping to reduce re-offending'. We have worked with women ex-offenders over the past year and


    Many women consider prison a turning point and an opportunity to make a fresh start; without the right support the dreams of life change never come to fruition. However, our work has been proven to help beneficiaries become self-employed, gain financial independence and provide a new chance for them, their families and the wider community.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Help women offenders be informed, confident and more motivated about becoming self-employed


    » Undertake outreach work in prisons, probation and other prison/resettlement and rehabilitation agencies nationwide to engage with women offende
    » We will run information sessions for women in prison on self-employment coupled with additional workshops to enhance self belief and esteem.
    » We will run Startupnow days for women released into the community who have not yet managed to gain employment.
    » We will open pathways to partner agencies to give support for challenges such as substance abuse, housing, self harm etc.

    Each year 200 women offenders and ex-offenders will have accessed information about the opportunity of becoming self employed

    Aim 2

    Enable offenders to demonstrate the skills and knowledge of the steps required to start a business


    » We will give them access to business advisers who can help them turn their ideas into realistic business plans.
    » We will run workshops with women ex-offenders who have successfully set up businesses to share their experiences and knowledge.
    » We will provide meetings with partner agencies to help them develop their personal, social and professional skills

    Each year 100 women offenders and ex offenders will be able to show the skills required to set up their own business including self confidence, financial acumen and marketing kno

    Aim 3

    Enable women to become self-employed, contributing to the economy & their community


    » We will increase their access to personalised business start-up support
    » We will give them access to business advice, marketing, sales support and personal mentoring
    » Run Startupnow events where ex-offenders can share best practice and receive peer support
    » We will work to help vulnerable women become productive members of society

    Each year 50 women ex-offenders with a viable business plan will become self-employed. They will have measurably improved life skills and self esteem

    Aim 4

    Enable community leaders, business people and ex-offenders to form collaborative partnerships


    » We will run 10 Startup days around the country
    » We will work closely with offenders to ensure that any women we are unable to help are signposted to alternative support
    » New clients will be given an opportunity to ‘shadow’ existing clients and experience a ‘day in the life of...’

    Community leaders, business people and ex-offenders will have formed collaborative partnerships with Startup and become mentors and business advisers

  • Impact


    The Corston report states that many women offenders suffer poor physical and mental health or substance abuse or both. Large numbers have endured violent or sexual abuse or had chaotic childhoods. Startup works to help these women become productive members of society, reducing crime in the community and promoting healthy family relationships. In engaging with partner agencies we hope to provide holistic support to offenders and ex-offenders so they may make a successful transition from pris


    We need to ensure the advice & support we offer is of a high standard, consistent & accessible. In our pilot year we learnt that it can be difficult fitting our support around commitments that ex-offenders have. Sometimes clients cancel meetings because, for example, they need to meet with probation. To overcome this we have involved our clients in development of the service and, next year, we will be developing a drop in service and peer mentoring in addition to business advice. Systems are i


    We have evaluation & monitoring processes established which enable us to give donors accurate feedback on the number of women reached and the outcome of our intervention. Ordinarily this is presented in a written report; we also invite funders to visit Startup days to meet new and existing clients

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £375,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £299,500 Revenue Startup Days, Mentoring etc.
      £75,500 O/heads Staff, Office, Utilities

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    The City Bridge Trust £14,000 Guaranteed
    Westminster Foundation £15,000 Guaranteed
    Wates Foundation £7,500 Guaranteed
    Big Lottery Fund £235,500 Conditional
  • Background


    Startupnow will be working with women offenders and ex-offenders either in or recently released from, selected prisons in the women’s estate throughout England. For example; HMP Foston Hall, Holloway, East Sutton Park, Send and Bronzefield. In addition to working directly with prisons we work closely with women’s centres, agencies and other services such as probation throughout the country


    Women offenders and ex-offenders from prisons throughout England will benefit directly from the Startupnow for Women intervention.
    Indirectly their families and the wider community will benefit from their success as they stay out of prison, reduce crime and promote family cohesion

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    More than 80,000 offenders are released from prison annually but two thirds of them re-offend within two years. We have a unique, proven model of support, working with clients in prison and continuing to support them once their businesses launch. In the first 8 months of delivering support we have worked with 164 offenders, 93 have developed business plans and 35 have already launched their businesses. So far, none of the women have been re-convicted.
    Over the last four years Startup has advise

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    The Client

    The client is key to the success of the project and will also take part in mentoring and development

    Peer Mentors

    Peer mentors will support new clients and give support and opportunities to ‘shadow’ successful clients

    Business Advisers And Pro Bono Professionals

    Business advisers and pro bono professionals will give high quality, consistent advise and will influence the success of the business

    Startup Team

    Startup team, providing holistic support, liaising with clients, partner agencies and funders