Seeking funding for a particular purpose is one way to try and rebuild your life. There are a number of options available to people with convictions.
There are, in particular, some funders who specifically provide funding for serving prisoners, those who have recently been released, and those who have recently received a criminal conviction.
There are, of course, other mainstream funding options available, which are not specifically aimed at people with convictions.
There are also funders specifically aimed at education and training.
If you are looking to become self-employed or start up your own business, there is other information available too.
Are you in prison and looking for funding?
- Speak to your education department regarding educational courses that are available which are supplied by the prison. These are often provided free of charge.
- There are some funding organisations who will only give funding to approved course providers. Does your course fit this criteria? They may also require a small contribution from you.
- Ask about any contributions to courses available from the governor (Governors loan)
- Look at the Prisoner Funder Directory for detailed list of available funders. This is available online, but should also be available through the prison library.
Do you have a criminal conviction and are seeking funding?
- Take a look at the Prisoner Funder Directory
- Ask in your local library for “The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need”. This contains charitable trusts and funders, split both geographically and thematically.
Other funding options
Services provided to people in prison, on probation or in the community
Many organisations that provide services to serving prisoners, people on probation or people with convictions in the community sometimes have, as part of the service that they provide. The ability to covers the costs of funding certain things, such as the costs of training courses, equipment for a particular job, the costs of furnishing for a house.
If you are currently receiving help from an organisation, or have found out about details of organisations that help people in your situation, you should enquire as to whether they have the ability to fund as part of their work.
One notable example of the ability to provide funding is through the NOMS/ESF Co-financing project (details are available here) where regional and local providers are often able to cover the costs of training and undertaking qualifications as they are being funded to help individuals into these kinds of opportunities and covering the costs is one way in which they can do this.
There are charities which offer grants to people in need based on set criteria – the area in which you live, job sector you work in or intend to work in etc. Turn2Us operate a website which holds details of around 3,000 grants. It allows you to search for any that are available based on your personal circumstances.
Mainstream funding routes
In many cases, the fact that you have a criminal record doesn’t open up any new funding opportunities, but nor should you find that it closes other opportunities down. For example, the fact that you have a criminal record shouldn’t prevent you from getting support in accessing training or courses through your local Job Centre.
People often find that when they move on from the criminal justice system, agencies that work with “offenders/ex-offenders” are limited in what help they can offer. However, you will find other opportunities available, not because you have a criminal record, but simply because you are unemployed, or in need of training or basic skills.
Funding for education and training
The Government operate several means of obtaining funding for education or training.
The Student Loans Company offer financial support to anybody studying in higher education to cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses. The Student Loans Company do not ask you to disclose details of criminal convictions however, UCAS, with your consent, may share details of your application with the Student Loans Company.
24+ Advanced Learning Loans brings ‘student loan style’ financing to college and training courses. The loan only meets the cost of the course fees and would not cover childcare or living expenses. Eligibility depends on:-
- The type of course
- The college or training provider
- Your age
- Your nationality or residency status
You will not be asked for details of any criminal cautions or convictions and there are no credit checks required.
The Loan Bursary Fund, which is administered and awarded by individual colleges or institutions provides loans to anybody who has been approved for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan but requires assistance with expenses. Any eligibility criteria will be set by the individual organisation and will be means tested. You may need to disclose criminal convictions when enrolling for certain courses but, it is unlikely that there will be any need to disclose when making a Bursary Fund application. However, as each college/organisation can set their own criteria you should check both the application form and the small print.
Many colleges offer Discretionary Learner Support Grants to anybody over the age of 19 who faces financial hardship. It is means tested and the amounts available will depend on your personal circumstances. As the application process is different for each college, it is not possible to say with certainty that a criminal record disclosure would not be required. However, is seems unlikely that a college would accept somebody onto a course with a criminal conviction only to deny them finance based on this conviction.
The Government offer financial assistance with travel costs, childcare, equipment or uniform purchase (for specific jobs) from its Flexible Support Fund which can be applied for at Jobcentre Plus offices. Funding does not necessarily need to be in direct relation to education or training, it can be available for difficulties encountered whilst working. The grant is means tested and eligibility will be assessed at an interview conducted at the Jobcentre. The Jobcentre’s Central Enquiry Office have confirmed that disclosure of a criminal record is not part of the general application process but decisions are made on a case by case basis and it would be unlikely that a conviction would negatively affect an application if a disclosure were required.
Professional and Career Development Loans are bank loans that can be used to pay for courses and training that help with your career to getting you into work. Loans offered are between £300 and £10,000 and are offered at a reduced interest rate whilst you are studying. To find out which banks offer loans and request an application pack, contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900. You will not be eligible to apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan if you are in prison or a Young Offenders Institution or have been released on temporary licence. If you have been released from prison or a YOI but remain under supervision in the community you would be eligible to apply.
City and Guilds offer a small number of grants to those who wish to study for a City & Guilds qualification. There are only a small number of grants available and City & Guilds will assess applications on a needs basis – therefore a genuine financial barrier to your undertaking a City & Guilds qualification will need to be evidenced. Previous grants have been provided grants for:-
- Childcare costs
- Course costs
- Living expenses whilst undertaking the course
- Travel expenses
Generally, City & Guilds do not ask any questions about criminal convictions however, you should bear in mind that if you are applying for funding for a qualification which would require full disclosure of a criminal conviction, then City & Guilds may ask specific details about any cautions or convictions. This may influence their decision on whether to grant funding.