Luton-based MACS Plasterboard Systems has completed its fourth Drylining and Plastering Training module at Highpoint South prison in Suffolk, and plans to expand its training work within the UK Prison System.

Launched at the start of 2016, MACS, along with the support of its partners Saint-Gobain UK, British Gypsum and Gibbs & Dandy, regularly enter Highpoint South, a Category C prison housing offenders serving up to life sentences, to conduct on-site training modules for prisoners.

The initiative involves MACS instructors teaching prisoners key skills as part of a specially designed curriculum which intends to help offenders obtain work as general construction labourers when they’re released.

Each training module normally involves up to eight learners but, as the scheme has been heavily over-subscribed, the latest module was increased to allow 12 prisoners to take part.

Steve Phillips, Head of Reducing Re-Offending at HMP Highpoint, believes that the MACS Plasterboard initiative has been an unqualified success. He said: “MACS Plasterboard Systems are an example of an organisation who can see and encourage the development of people with untapped talent.

“Generous with their time and dynamic in their approach, MACS have introduced a new initiative at Highpoint which is offering real employment opportunities for prisoners on release, helping ensure that they have the skills to turn their lives around and not create more victims on release.”

MACS Plasterboards is takes a very proactive approach to training and runs other programmes with colleges, social enterprise organisations and within the wider construction industry. But this is the first time the firm has become involved with the Prison Service.

MACS chief executive Tom McLoughlin said: “We have a wide-spread labour shortage throughout the construction industry, including our own sector of drylining and plastering.

“It is a problem that is forecast to last for the next decade and we as an industry must help find sustainable solutions.

“Our involvement with HMP Highpoint goes much further than just developing more workers for construction. It’s our chance to give people who have made mistakes in life the
opportunity to get their lives back on track and become valued members of society.”

The cost of re-offending in the UK costs upwards of £13bn per year, with some penal institutions seeing over 70% of inmates released reoffending and then being sent back to prison within 12 months.

CAPTION: James McLoughlin and Tom McLoughlin (left and right both from MACS Plasterboard Systems) and Lisa Haworth (centre the Business and Community Engagement Manager HMP Highpoint)