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Employment and training

Catch22 social entrepreneur Jacob Hill is awarded Churchill Fellowship

Jacob Hill stands in front of a wall with his arms crossed. He looks away from the camera.

As founder of Offploy and Catch22 social entrepreneur, Jacob Hill is revolutionising the prospects of people with criminal convictions. Using his personal experience of prison and his entrepreneurial skills, he is changing our communities for the better by embracing the power of employment.

Jacob has now been named as one of the 2020 Winston Churchill Fellows – the fellowship is a legacy to Sir Winston Churchill’s leadership, funding individuals to find innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems, and to use those findings to benefit the UK.

Jacob will use his fellowship to explore the criminal justice systems in Brazil, Singapore and Fiji over two four-week periods.

In his blog today, Jacob shares more on how he’ll be making the most of his fellowship:

“For the first part of my journey, I’ll be living in Brazilian prisons trying to understand how a country with such a high imprisonment population is run without prison officers, and instead is completely ran by trusted prisoners and volunteers from the local communities. Per 100,000 citizens, Brazil imprisons 336 people; this compares to the UK’s rate of 140 per 100,000 and Norway’s 63 per 100,000.”

Brazil’s prisons run at a third of the cost of conventional prisons and Jacob will be researching what lessons can be learnt.

“The second part of my fellowship will be spent in Singapore and Fiji; they have reduced their reoffending rate to 25.9% and 3.6% respectively. They’ve done this through dramatically improving societal acceptance of people who have been in prison, particularly through the Yellow Ribbon Campaign – a sponsored run around a prison every year. Through initiatives like this and seeing how the community operates, I want to see what lessons we could learn here in the UK.”

On being awarded the Fellowship, he continued:

“Being released from prison, I wanted to dedicate my freedom to supporting others. This Fellowship means so much more to me than the ability to see best practice around the world; it represents a second chance to the 70,000 people being released from prison every year and the 11 million people with criminal convictions. It shows society that people with criminal convictions can significantly contribute to society, turn their life around and that everyone should be given another chance to become a part of their community.”

Catch22 chose Jacob as one of our 2019 social entrepreneurs as part of Incubate, Accelerate, Amplify – the programme supports new approaches towards Catch22’s collective goal of giving every person the pathway to having good people around them, a fulfilling purpose, and safe place to live.

Catch22’s Chief Development Officer Mat Ilic says:

“We chose Jacob for a reason, and it is fantastic to see that the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has recognised the fantastic contribution he has been making. We know the power of meaningful and gainful employment for everyone. By working intentionally with both employers and candidates, Jacob and Offploy have shown how the UK can address chronic sector skills shortages while reducing reoffending and making communities safer.

“Our venture support programme is an excellent opportunity for social entrepreneurs to benefit from Catch22’s leadership, networks, and frontline experience. But we have also learned and continue to learn so much from leaders like Jacob; it is fantastic that the Trust will enable him to gather the best evidence from other countries to enhance our collective knowledge and contribute to the mission further.”

Jacob’s Fellowship travels will begin in April 2020 and will be completed by March 2021. His findings will be shared in a final report and disseminated through several talks around the UK on his return.