Unlock has today won the Guardian Charity Award for its work tackling the economic and social exclusion of reformed offenders. The charity was selected as one of five winners from almost 1,000 entries, the largest number ever received in the history of the awards.
The charity focuses on the ongoing discrimination which can prevent reformed offenders from contributing positively to society throughout their entire lives. Unlock.org.uk has become the leading source of information for law-abiding people with a criminal record, attracting 130,000 unique visitors a year.
The charity employs only five staff but works with volunteers to develop and deliver innovative projects, products and services, as well as campaigning for legal changes that would allow many reformed offenders to get off benefits and into employment.
The judges said Unlock was a “brilliant, very positive story” that was “tackling controversial issues”, “offering the long-term support needed” and that its use of online and media “shows huge potential”.
The charity will receive £6,000 prize money, one year free membership to NCVO, a tailored package from the FSI that includes mentoring, expert advice and training and a media package, including support from their community of journalists, from Media Trust.
Notes to editors
1. The awards highlight the work of UK based, small to medium sized charities that focus on social welfare and have been operating for two or more years with an annual income of between £5,000 and £1.5million.
2. The judging panel included: David Brindle, The Guardian (chair); Jane Asher, president of the National Autistic Society; Lynne Berry OBE, associate of Civil Exchange, Caroline Diehl, chief executive of Media Trust; Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO); Emma Harrison, chairman of trustees, the Foundation for Social Improvement; Baroness Howarth OBE, and Dame Suzi Leather, chair, Charity Commission.
3. The judges made the following comments: –
Baroness Howarth: “Brilliant, very positive story”
Jane Asher: “Remarkable and inspiring story of the chief executive turning their life around”
Pauline Broomhead: “Offering the long-term support needed after prison”
Caroline Diehl: “Use of online and media is great – shows huge potential”
Judges agreed that it is a positive story tackling controversial issues.