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28 Jun 16


The International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB201) Blue Skies stage played host to a unique speaker this week, as the festival welcomed Paul Walmsley – who held the notorious title of Britain’s Most Wanted between 2006 and 2011.

The former career criminal, who served his sentence at Kirkham Prison, walked free on Monday June 27th and into IF2016 to take part in a session called Prison Break to talk about his experiences.

Paul, who will still serve five years on licence has transformed his life and has been offered a job as a tutor and lecturer at the Jamie Carragher Sports and Learning Academy, following a number of years volunteering for the organisation under Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) which enables offenders to undertake activities in the community.

He joined a panel on the IFB2016 Blue Skies stage alongside coaching expert Clare McGregor and Timpsons’ Chief Executive and Prison Reform Trust Chair James Timpson to take about the great contribution that reformed prisoners can make to the working world.

Speaking during the session, Paul Walmsley said: “Anyone who’s been in prison has a lot to prove, both to themselves and the people who’ve stuck by them. A lot of prisoners have qualities that make them a real asset to business. We’ve got determination, know-how, and nous, we’ve got great problem-solving skills and we think on our feet and businesses have the opportunity to go into prisons and handpick people.

 “Some people find that prison can be the best experience of their lives, it gets you used to a regime of routine and means that you’re much more equipped to function in a working environment.

 “I’ve transformed my life, I’ve written a book, I’ve won awards and I know that I’m an asset to the business that I’m joining – and this is not a unique situation, there are many, many people that I’ve left behind who are just like me.”

UK retailers Timpsons recruits one in ten of its employees from prisons across the UK and is one of a growing number of big-name UK firms that runs prison recruitment programmes – others include  Greggs, Halfords and M&S.

Timpsons’ CEO James Timpson joined to panel to talk about the firm’s pioneering attitude towards ex-cons. He said: “One in ten of our colleagues is recruited directly from prisons across the UK – and there are not just people working in the background, they include area managers and senior team members.

“In our business, we recruit on personality alone, and on the whole, we’ve found that people who join us from prison are engaging, interested and commercially aware. We’ve also found them to be the most loyal, the most honest and the people who stay with us for the longest.

“A lot of the people I meet in prison are incredibly bright and hardworking and are desperate for a break. They really understand the value of bringing home a pay packet. Every single day that people who’ve come out of prison go without working causes exponential problems. We need to mitigate this and do what we can to ensure they have a soft landing on release.”

The IFB2016 Blue Skies session was held as part of IFB2016’s Creative and Digital Week. The three –week festival, which comes to a close on Friday July 1st, will feature a number of key speakers over the rest of the week, including Will Butler Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycles, and renowned economist Jim O’Neill on June 29th. For more information, please visit:

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