Groundwork helps bridge the gap between people in prison who are keen to learn new skills and start a career upon release, and the growing market for green skills within the construction industry.

Our comprehensive learning and employability programme, Green Start equips participants with the knowledge and skills needed for sustainable careers after their release from prison.

It began in 2021 in partnership with the City & Guilds Foundation, who continue to support the programmes development. In 2023, we secured DfE Skills Bootcamp funding through the GMCA, which will continue through to 2025.

Our team of employment specialists provide training, coaching and post-release support to those on the Green Start programme. In addition, the team engage with construction partners to understand their needs and tailor the Green Start training programme as appropriate, ensuring participants are site ready upon release.

Learning new skills

Green Start courses last 10-12 weeks and are a blend of practical group learning and classroom-based activities.

Participants learn various practical skills, including carpentry, plastering, bricklaying, tiling, painting & decorating, and plumbing.

In addition, the programme helps participants gain vital qualifications, such as the NOCN Level 2 in multi-trades and their CSCS card, enhancing their employability in the green construction sector. This is achieved by delivering a number of theory-based sessions.


The programme has exceeded expectations this year, with positive prisoner outcomes, a successful pilot at HMP Styal, a glowing Ofsted rating and demand from other prisons.

Over the past year our team have delivered courses in HMP Forest Bank (Male estate) and HMP Styal (Women’s estate) supporting over 75 people to learn new skills and get work ready.

In Forest Bank, 100% of programme participants have achieved their City & Guilds Level 1 Health & Safety in Construction and 58% also gained their Carbon Literacy Certificates. The programme at Forest Bank also boasts an impressive 70% employment rate!

Supportive partners

Our partners within the construction sector and the green economy help co-design the Green Start training programme so that the course meets their training needs and leads to a diverse group of work ready candidates.

Most of the courses we run involve guest speakers from major construction partners attending the prison to talk about real-life construction experiences.

Thank you is extended to the following partners who attended to deliver in-prison talks:

  • We are Footprint
  • Wilmott Dixon
  • Seddon Construction
  • Morgan Sindall
  • Wates
  • Gallaway Construction

One participant added,

I enjoyed seeing the employers as it made things more real. I liked showing them the work I had completed. To be honest I’m proud of myself for finishing the course.

Feedback from participants

Feedback from participants indicated significant improvements in confidence, self-esteem, motivation, communication, and teamwork skills post-completion of the programme.

“Each morning I wake up in prison, I remember it’s not so bad because I’m going to learn something new today on the Green Start course.’’

‘’My confidence gets greater every day because of the Green Start course. I think it’s a good positive course for anybody who wants to achieve something great in the future.’’

‘’I enjoyed every minute of the course, to be honest there is nothing about it I didn’t enjoy. Mentors were supportive not just with practical skills but with revision of health and safety, which I would usually struggle with. Groundwork staff are nice and friendly and know what they are doing, which has been different to other experiences in prison. I have already recommended this to people on my wing.’’

What’s next?

The Green Start programme continues to make a significant impact on the lives of people who have been in prison who are coming to the end of the sentence and the Groundwork team are keen to roll out the training more widely in the North West.

A huge thank you is extended to our funders for helping make our work possible.