From the streets of LA to Glasgow, new restaurant employs only ex-cons

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It aims to turn young LA gangster away from a life of crime, now this American social enterprise restaurant chain is coming to Glasgow

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9th November 2015 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Former criminals are to staff a new restaurant and a seperate takeaway in Glasgow in a bid to begin a chain of eateries that will help reform offenders.

Braveheart Industries has taken an idea from social enterprise Homeboy, which began in Los Angeles in 1988 and now helps turn around the lives of young men caught in a cycle of gang warfare.

With the motto "nothing stops a bullet like a job", Braveheart Industries now hopes to replicate its success through a series of businesses. 

Five years ago I thought my future would be crime - the thought of getting a job and being happy wasn't in my future - ex-offender Peter

It will see a restaurant opening in Glasgow city centre and a high-end takeaway in the city's west end early next year, initially employing 10 former criminals.

Braveheart is a registered charity run by the Police Scotland and Scottish Government partnership, the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

Inspector Iain Murray, head of employability programmes at VRU, said: "We have been looking for felony-friendly employers to offer people a chance, knowing that we are supporting them (the ex-offender) all the way through. It's difficult to get employers to take that risk, but if they are in our own business, they are under our wing more."

The charity's employment programmes have an impressive success rate. Over the last few years, they have seen just over 60 people employed in jobs at a variety of places including at the Edinburgh Milatry Tattoo and the Commonwealth Games, and 79% have moved onto positive destinations.

Peter, whose name has been changed, was in and out of prison for assautls, carrying offensive weapons and gang fighting between the ages of 15 and 21.

Thanks to Braveheart, he is now about to start a job in construction.

He said: "Five years ago I thought my future would be crime – the thought of getting a job and being happy wasn't in my future. Now I am basically just happy and working and not in that circle of crime anymore."

Murray explained that the programme is designed to help those who face the most difficulties finding work.

"We focus on people who have violent criminal histories, people who are furthest from the job market and less likely to get a job than anyone else.

"Those who have never really had a job are the people we need to impact on, as if we go for the easy ones who would get a job anyway, the we would be wasting our time."