Social Inclusion Award

Sponsored by Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

Tim Passmore, left, presents the Social Inclusion to Vicki Bidnall and Bryan Hurst of Bernard Matthews Foods. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

In this category, the judges were looking for commercial businesses with a broadly-based approach to overcoming issues of social exclusion.

This included positive steps to recruiting, training and/or retaining groups such as ex-offenders, young people not in employment education or training, the long-term unemployed, former armed forces personnel and the homeless.

The judges were looking at how the business goes about attracting people from these groups and what it has done to remove, or help them to overcome, the barriers they often face, such as by offering work placements or CV writing and interview technique sessions or removing recruitment criteria which effectively bar certain groups unnecessarily.

Case studies setting out specific examples of recruitment from among groups vulnerable to exclusion were welcome, although it was recognised that it might not be appropriate for names or some other personal details to be divulged.

Businesses entering this category were also be expected to demonstrate a comprehensive policy for ensuring equality, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age and disability.



Bernard Matthews Foods

Bernard Matthews Foods was launched in 1950 when its founder purchased an incubator and 20 turkey eggs from the local market.
From these humble beginnings Mr Matthews became the largest and most recognised turkey farmer and producer in the UK.
Today, the company is a branded and retailer branded provider of fresh, frozen and cooked turkey products with more than 6.8m households enjoying a Bernard Matthews product every year.
It is a major employer in Norfolk and Suffolk, with a workforce of more than 1,300 people.
The judges said: “Bernard Matthews operates a hugely impressive scheme which helps offenders to avoid returning to a life of crime and to become useful members of society.
“The company holds interviews with inmates at Norwich Prison and offers a role to those deemed suitable. This can be one of a variety of jobs, including packing, quality control or sanitation.
“In its first year, the scheme helped nine offenders to successfully rehabilitate into the community, saving the taxpayer nearly £400,000 and providing great help for those individuals.”

The runners-up

Headway Suffolk

Headway Suffolk’s aims are to provide rehabilitation and care for adults with a neurological condition and to offer their families, friends or carers respite, support and advice.
The services offered will assist in recovery and rehabilitation where appropriate and dignity and care to all. This is provided through four rehab hubs, in people’s homes and the local community.
The judges said: “Headway Suffolk runs an innovative scheme whereby prisoners from Hollesley Bay train so-called ‘Brainy Dogs’ to work with people who have suffered a brain injury.
“The benefits to the offenders include improved self-confidence, a feeling of being valued and trusted, and learning skills of self-reliance which are sometimes lost in prison life.
“Those who have suffered brain injuries also benefit enormously from the scheme. Headway Suffolk also has an excellent track record for helping those with brain injuries to return to the workplace.”

Suffolk Libraries

Suffolk Libraries is an independent and charitable organisation which has been running the library service in Suffolk for almost five years.
There are 44 libraries in Suffolk each with its own “community” or “friends” group which support its library to raise money and engage with the community. Ipswich County Library’s Chat n Chill project is one of the many examples of the diverse range of modern library services and activities provided.
The judges said: “The Chat and Chill groups at the County Library in Ipswich offer women from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to gather on a regular basis to help them to integrate into the Suffolk community, to improve their English, and to make friends.
“This highly successful scheme has a proven track record of providing women with the self-confidence and skills they need to feel part of their local community.”