No matter how you try, whatever you do seems to get interpreted into whatever message someone else wants to send. Apex Scotland have just launched their first full social enterprise “All Cleaned Up” waste disposal and site clean up business operating out of Leith, with the intention of providing a first class business which recruits largely from those leaving prison or who have criminal justice issues which make their general employment harder than most. It also offers training and work experience and, in the words of the Cabinet Justice Secretary, a degree of hope for those who want to get back working but have found barriers in their way. Apex believe that many of those caught up in the criminal justice process are valuable workers, often with a great attitude to work and a strong desire to break out of their circumstances, and the quality of work already undertaken by this business demonstrates this.
It is perhaps not so helpful then that the reporting of the event focuses more on ‘criminals paying back their debt to society’ and similar get tough on crime rhetoric, disregarding the fact that our employees may well have already paid back, and for whom All Cleaned Up is simply a professional job with an organisation prepared to back their motivation and drive. Apex are looking for this operation to expand to other sites as the business model becomes clearer, in line with MacAskill’s comments that there should be this sort of opportunity across the country, but we are clear that the success or failure of this enterprise rests on the quality of its product and workforce, not on philanthropic ideology. A sign of our times? Yes, quite probably.
CEO Apex Scotland