A GROUP of young people climbed Glastonbury Tor to launch a 999 Appeal with Key4Life, the rehabilitation charity attempting to unlock jobs for former offenders.

The Key4Life programme includes employability training to help get the young men into work, and the charity is driving social change with its YOUNITED Flag campaign, which awards companies that have employed an ex-offender for more than six months.

The nine ex-offenders on the Tor walk were all graduates of the charity's rehabilitation programme for young men in prison and those at risk of going to prison.

Liam, 27, who worked for Yeo Valley for three years thanks to an introduction from Key4Life before recently setting up his own burger and ice cream van business in partnership with Key4Life and Yeo Valley, said: “I am hugely grateful to Key4Life for opening the door to employment for me.

"Research shows that 50 per cent of corporate Britain would not hire ex-offenders, and Key4Life is hugely helping to increase that statistic.

"With reoffending costing the UK government £18.1billion a year, the YOUNITED Flag is highlighting how employing ex-offenders can drive change by dispelling stereotypes and removing unfair prejudice. Our 999 Appeal will help to give more ex-offenders another chance.”

Over 60 per cent of Key4Life graduates are gainfully employed - versus a government rate of 15 per cent - while the charity’s reoffending rate is 16 per cent, a quarter of the government figure.

The charity uses equine therapy, music and mentorship in addition to employability training to help the young men heal and become valuable contributors to society.

Callum, 24, who graduated from the Key4Life At Risk programme in July before recently securing a job at Tommy Hillfiger in Clarks Village in Street, said: “It’s amazing, the turnaround in less than a year, the help from Key4Life, and then to see Clarks Village accept people that are at risk and need help.

"I think lots of companies are afraid to be the statistics and to be part of the solution.

"Yet it’s incredible to see companies slowly making that change to help ex-offenders and those at risk. I urge more companies to see that giving jobs to men with convictions is not a crime, it’s a crime not to.”