Judith Donovan CBE has been appointed as chair of the joint Employment Advisory Board for HMP Askham Grange and HMP New Hall, Yorkshire’s two women’s prisons, to help prison leavers get the skills they need to find work.  

With a wealth of experience across marketing, governance and public sector operations, Judith was awarded her CBE for services to training and the City of Bradford. 

She is also chair of the Ripon Cathedral Council and holds trustee roles with the world’s largest group of science museums, The Science Museum Group, and The National Army Museum, the leading authority on the army past and present. 

Judith has been appointed by New Futures Network, which is working with businesses to launch Employment Advisory Boards in 92 prisons across England and Wales. The Boards are part of a range of initiatives launched by New Futures Network and partners, to support prisons deliver on their employment strategies. New Futures Network is the specialist part of HM Prison and Probation Service, which brokers partnerships between prisons and employers in England and Wales. These partnerships help businesses fill skills gaps and support prison leavers to find employment.  

Employment is crucial in tackling the £18 billion cost of reoffending, cutting crime and boosting public protection, as prison leavers in steady jobs within six months of leaving prison are nine percentage points less likely to commit further crime.   

Speaking of her appointment, Judith said: “It is a massive honour to be asked to chair the Employment Advisory Board for Yorkshire two women’s prisons, New Hall and Askham Grange. 

“I am a firm believer that everyone deserves a second chance, and those employers with a long history of hiring prison leavers, such as Timpson, speak very highly of the calibre of that workforce. 

“It is my hope, and that of my colleagues, that we can add value to the resettlement process by opening up more employment opportunities and advising on the most relevant in-prison education to ensure prison leavers have access to suitable employment and training.”  

Duncan O’Leary, CEO, New Futures Network, added: “Employment Advisory Boards are a game-changer for prisons. The expertise Board members will share with prisons on the skills, training, and qualifications needed by businesses in the areas prisoners will be released to, will be invaluable. The aim is for this intelligence to inform the education and training offer in prisons, and work opportunities that prisoners take up.” 

Acting as a link between prisons and employers, the Boards encourage prisons to better equip serving prisoners to use their time in prison to gain the skills and links to job opportunities they need to head straight into stable work upon release.  

Research from the Ministry of Justice shows that nine out of ten businesses that hire ex-offenders agree that they are motivated, good attenders and trustworthy.