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Social enterprise giving young-ex offenders a second chance wins royal awards.

Just seven of the 225 young people helped by The Skill Mill have been re-convicted.

A shocking proportion of young people convicted of a crime end up with another conviction. But a social enterprise helping young offenders into work has dramatically reduced that figure and received two prizes at the Queen’s Awards hosted by Prince Charles as a result.

The Skill Mill has helped hundreds of young people break the chain of re-offending by employing 16 to 18 year olds, offering intensive six-month work programmes to help them gain employment.

The organisation scooped two awards at the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, hosted at a recent Windsor Castle event. The prizes mean the Skill Mill, which receives funding from Big Issue Invest, The Big issue’s social investment arm, will be able to fly the Queen’s Awards flag at its office and will be given a Grant of Appointment certificate – valid for five years.

Just 17 of the 225 people helped by the Skill Mill have been reconvicted, and the social enterprise believes this has saved the taxpayer over £90 million.

The cost of a young offender – taking into account police, prison, court, and the Youth Offending Service – is estimated to be £112,000 a year.

The social enterprise won in the “sustainable development” and “promoting opportunity (through social mobility)” categories. It was one of only five organisations to win two awards.

Founded by Davie Parks in 2013, the Skill Mill started in Newcastle and is now running across England. The company this year also secured £1m in investment to work with 250 more young people.

To be awarded one Queen’s Award is amazing, to get two is something none of us could ever have imagined. It’s fantastic recognition for our staff, partners and the young people we help,” Parks said.

The Queen’s Award triumph will definitely help raise the profile of our work and encourage more local areas and firms to invest in The Skill Mill.”

The above article by Greg Barradale first published on in Nov, 2021