In 2023, we awarded £31,964 to Onwards and Upwards to support them to create more employment opportunities for ex-offenders through social enterprises.
Onwards and Upwards was set up in 2021 with the aim of breaking the cycle of re-offending by creating job opportunities that change lives for good. Through the creation of social enterprises – businesses that reinvest their profits into their mission – they’ve been able to show the value ex-offenders bring to both the workplace and wider society.
In May 2022, they launched their first social enterprise project: XO Bikes – a business that recycles and refurbishes donated bikes. All the profits made from selling their refurbished bikes are reinvested into training and hiring more prison leavers.
Studies show that employment is the most important factor in reducing re-offending rates, yet most businesses will not employ ex-offenders. By giving people the opportunity to learn valuable skills, Onwards and Upwards is helping to break the cycle of re-offending and high rates of unemployment.
On a recent visit to the XO Bikes warehouse in Lewisham Shopping Centre, we witnessed a wealth of inspiring activities underway, including one of many workshops which gives talented prison leavers the training to become qualified bike mechanics.
We also enjoyed visiting the shop and seeing the large variety of refurbished bikes available to buy. The individual stamp every employee puts on the bikes they refurbish acts like a symbol of the things young people can achieve, even after a difficult start to life.
The highlight of our trip was when we headed to the roof-top to watch two young people perform tricks on the newly refurbished bikes. Every bike fixed is a testament to the work ethic, skill, and self-belief of everybody who has taken part in the workshops.
We loved seeing all the hard-work that goes on at Onwards and Upwards into shifting attitudes towards young people who have left prison. We’re proud to support such an innovative and important charity.
Founder, Stefan Jones, plans on creating more social enterprises in the future with the goal of further breaking the cycle of re-offending. If you’d like to follow his journey, you can check out their website here.
We're always looking to fund charities who provide educational opportunities for young people, under the age of 25, in London. You can check if your charity is eligible for funding by taking our eligibility quiz today.