Custodial Review editor Victoria Galligan caught up with Andy Gullick, Chief Executive of RIFT Social Enterprise, which offers accounting advice to prisoners…
When was RIFT set up and what was the impetus behind the social enterprise?
RIFT Group was, established in 1999, by Chairperson Jan Post, to specialise in tax advice and refunds for individuals and small businesses. The company has since grown to be the UK’s leading tax refund specialist.
RIFT Social Enterprise was set up in 2017 after Jan learned more about the barriers keeping former offenders out of work. Speaking to a self-employed gardener, he told her how he’d learned his trade while in HMP Highpoint and when he got out, he’d decided to make a fresh start using the skills he’d developed during his prison term. He succeeded in setting up his own business, but despite his best efforts ran into difficulties with HMRC paperwork and regulations, due to lack of knowledge and support.
When people released from prison are genuinely looking to contribute to society, but are being prevented from doing so, Jan saw the need to act to help them. It’s about offering a second, better chance – showing them there is a way to avoid getting trapped in the cycle of reoffending. As owner of RIFT Jan is in the unique position to give people the hand up they so often need.
RIFT’s work has always been about helping real people facing real problems and it was clear to Jan that she could offer something of serious value to people’s lives. She hopes to generate real social, economic and environmental benefits for individuals and communities by making the expertise of RIFT Group available.
Which prisons have you worked in so far, and do you travel UK-wide?
We are able to provide a service across the whole of the UK.
We are currently delivering services in HMPs Stocken in Rutland, Berwyn in Wrexham, High Point in Sussex and are about to commence delivery in a number of others including ones in Staffordshire, London and Yorkshire.
We are also in discussions about how we can work with Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) areas and are open to exploring potential delivery in other criminal justice sectors outside of the prison and probation service.
Is there a fee for your services, and if so who pays it?
We charge a nominal fee which covers our core costs of delivering our services. As a Social Enterprise any profits are re-invested back into the business to allow RIFT to offer services to a wider pool of prisoners and to part-fund additional RIFT services. We operate on a not-for-profit basis.
The services we provide are paid for in different ways. Some costs are paid by the prisons directly (eg through innovation, education or resettlement funds); some are paid for by the prisoners themselves by the means of us taking a small percentage of any tax refund that we are able to obtain for the prisoner and using this to part-fund additional services; in some cases we are able to provide our services free at point of use thanks to external grant funding.
Have you received any funding to help set up RIFT and, if so, where from?
Jan is personally funding RIFT Social Enterprise and is heavily involved in the day to day management and strategy for the organisation.
From a family of entrepreneurs Jan always fought for her customers and her business and has always been a passionate in championing the cause of those most in need of help but with least access to it.
Jan has been listed as one of the 40 most influential business leaders in Kent and has won numerous awards, including Woman of the Year in Construction and Business Woman of the Year and has always been very active in the charity sector.
If you would like more information, please contact Andy Gullick, Chief Executive of RIFT Social Enterprise at firstname.lastname@example.org