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Young ex-offenders turn fashion pop-up into a fresh start

Young ex-offenders have been given the opportunity to work on the aptly named project ‘Blank Canvas’, a pop-up in Westfield Stratford City mixing fashion and employment… View Article

FASHION

Young ex-offenders turn fashion pop-up into a fresh start

Young ex-offenders have been given the opportunity to work on the aptly named project ‘Blank Canvas’, a pop-up in Westfield Stratford City mixing fashion and employment workshops.

The new initiative is part of a prison rehabilitation programme created by social enterprise Inside Out and LinkedIn. The group of young prison leavers aged 18 to 27 years old are selling their new 13-piece clothing range in the store, which includes branded hoodies, hats, T-shirts, facemasks and bags.

The project was created in response to new data that highlighted the challenges that people with criminal convictions face in finding work, showing only 44% would do so a year after their release.

The pop-up is designed to give disadvantaged young people skills in business, fashion and retail, through a mix of classes led by LinkedIn, and by selling a clothing range designed by ex-offenders – the sales of which will support other similar projects.

The group, who have all struggled to find employment, received training and mentoring in areas such as screen printing and design, as well as sales and marketing to help them look for future career opportunities.

The ex-offenders now can sell the clothing they have designed, produced and marketed in their Blank Canvas pop-up store in Westfield Stratford, which will remain open until 28 April.

Matt Lloyd, Executive Creative Director at VCCP London, said: “Support networks for young offenders are already few and far between, and the pandemic has sadly only added to that. For an ex-offender trying to build a new future, LinkedIn might not be the obvious place to start. But LinkedIn is unique in being able to offer the kind of learning, advice and connections that might otherwise seem a world away.

“This Inside Out project is a wonderful opportunity for these young ex-offenders to demonstrate what’s possible with a little mentoring, encouragement and belief. We hope it helps start something much bigger.”

Zara Easton, Head of Brand Marketing UK at LinkedIn, added: “LinkedIn is providing training and mentoring to help them build skills and find long-term employment opportunities as part of our wider ambition to create a more inclusive workforce for everyone. Together with the founders of Inside Out, we wanted to develop a campaign that brings to life their new beginnings, and shows how we can help create that opportunity through the power of connections.”

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