BVC graduate wins pro bono prize for prison work

Prisoners are now being warned about the dangers of cloaking their criminal past from future employers thanks to a would-be barristers award winning pro bono project.

Former Bar Vocational Course (BVC) student Alex Simmonds has been given a Higher Education Volunteering Award for creating his Bars in their Eyes project after learning that many prisoners were not correctly informing employers about their criminal history upon release.

The 24-year-old said: I identified the need for the project after learning that offenders can lose their jobs or go back to prison just through a lack of knowledge of the information they disclose on their job application forms.

Since then, and with the help of a team of almost 20 volunteers, Ive developed knowledge in leadership, management and training, along with marketing, networking, budgeting and planning skills.

Simmonds, who completed his BVC course at Nottingham Law School earlier this year, uses interactive teaching sessions to inform prisoners in and around Nottinghamshire on their legal obligation to disclose their criminal convictions, the best way to own up to them, and the consequences they could face if they try to hide them.

The prize, supported by the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF), is run by the Higher Education Academy and aims to reward student volunteers who have shown commitment to pro bono activities.