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Practivate, led by Fellow Leslie Alfin, provides a gateway for former gang members and ex-prisoners to work in social enterprises. Abilities that have been fostered in destructive patterns of deprivation and loss are rewritten as valuable business skills that can create a positive, sustainable future in society. RSA Catalyst is supporting Practivate’s Indigogo crowdfunding campaign ‘Keepin' It R.E.A.L. Homeware for Life’, live until November 18th; support their campaign here.

The current rate of prison recidivism in the UK is approximately 30% at a cost to UK taxpayers of more than £10 billion annually. The cost of addressing street crime perpetrated by gang activity is over £40 billion annually. The human costs paid by individuals and society can’t be measured. This pattern is repeated around the globe.

As a global society we currently spend more time and money re-purposing plastic bottles than we do re-claiming the vast intellectual and creative human resources that can be found sitting behind bars spending all day in their cells rather than being engaged in training and rehabilitation.

BBC News

Government or institutional “solutions” tend toward manual, low paying labour. This undervalues the potential of individuals who have, from a very early age, collected impressive business experience and skills, a portfolio of innovation ‘know-how’ and tools that could rival (and perhaps trump) the best from business schools.

The assumption that certain “disadvantaged” individuals or communities are less capable of meaningful and valuable contribution may be short sighted at best and stereotypical at worst.

While it is true that people who spend considerable time in prison are generally refused access to technology and therefore any advances in technology that might support and enhance the acquisition of more meaningful or interesting work at a higher rate of pay, it is also true that many of these individuals, whether in their prison lives or previous lives surviving on the street, have acquired considerable skill sets in the application of creative thinking, resilient behaviour and dynamic operating models to the generation of income regardless of its societal legitimacy.pic1

It is Practivate’s thinking that the playing field can be levelled by acknowledging these skills are valuable and marketable assets

In most cases survival on the street often means having to engage in multiple financial endeavours, affording these individuals an opportunity to become expert in the application of resilience as a valuable tool and critical life skill. The creativity and resilience born from a lack of resources are a catalyst for grass roots innovations which are in many ways more adaptive and sustainable than mainstream counterparts.

It is Practivate’s thinking that the playing field can be leveled by acknowledging these skills are valuable and marketable assets on the same basis as we do for those who have been educated in highly structured academic or work environments and are conditioned to only focus on the management of one job at a time. These individuals may be just as hindered by a lack of exposure to managing dynamic models—such as those managed by individuals who have “street careers”-- and require highly resilient, innovative and adaptive thinking and behaviour.

The characteristics, behaviours, attitudes and skill sets demonstrated by those who have no other option than to survive through wits and ingenuity may, in fact, have much to share, teach and contribute when it comes to the skill sets necessary to survive and sustain in an enterprise world that is nothing if not rapidly ever changing.

Practivate means to explore the possibility of an equitable and valuable exchange of knowledge and tools in a quid pro quo provision from a community of “returning citizens” (offenders and ex-offenders) who are assumed to be disadvantaged, have little to contribute, and whose intellectual capital is shamefully dismissed when seeking solutions for the social problems that have often generated their circumstances.

Practivate ltd is a social enterprise dedicated to the design, development and delivery of social impact programming that catalyses opportunity and economic equality for global citizens at risk with current focus on ex-offenders and gang alternatives.

We are currently running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to launch our second social enterprise platform, Keepin' It R.E.A. L. Homeware for Life, high end artisan home accessories produced, operated and managed through the applied business skills of former gang members. Please support a young adult who needs an opportunity to make good and productive use of their valuable skills and resources.

Practivate is proud to be supported by RSA Catalyst, which selects the best new ideas to help tackle social problems that its 27,000 Fellows are looking to deliver.

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