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Ian Hacon Chief Executive, Blue Sky Leisure

Intu Chapelfield

The boss of Intu Chapelfield made an impassioned plea to Norfolk businesses to work to help support ex-offenders into employement as the shopping centre won this year’s Community Impact award in recognition for its own efforts.

Chapelfield’s custody and community project gives serving prisoners practical, real-life work experience.

Davina Tanner, general manager of Intu Chapelfield, said: “The shopping centre is an important part of the community. Pretty much everyone who lives around Norwich comes in so we need to take our position responsibly.

“Having prisoners come in so they can prepare themselves for a job and not re-offend is good for everyone.”

She highlighted the fact that out of 190 serving prisoners who had done work experience at the shopping centre there had been a re-offending rate of just 6pc.

“If every business in this room employed an ex-offender it would reduce offending overnight,” she said.

Debbi Christophers, from Business in the Community, which with Norse sponsors the award, emphasised the award was “not just about philanthropy and doing good stuff but making a return on your investment”.

“Intu Chapelfield’s Custody and Community Project is an outstanding example of a programme which is having a significant and sustained impact on both business and community.

“The level of commitment from the Chapelfield team to taking this programme from strength to strength should be an inspiration to other employers.”