Amount Funded:

£250,330 over three years (made in 2018)


Participation - marginalised and excluded individuals and groups

Unlock provides a voice and support for people with convictions.


Feedback from an employer

"I wanted to feedback how immensely helpful I have found your website. We are not doing regulated activity but we needed to show that we are taking safeguarding seriously. I was finding it difficult to understand the detail of DBS checks and thanks to your website I have been able to get to grips with it and provide some guidance to managers so that they know how to approach the issue of criminal offences.

We have also ‘banned the box’. I’m afraid it sat on our job application form for some time without us truly understanding why we were asking, but again, your excellent (clear and user-friendly) website has enlightened us!"

Grantee Story

Recruit! (Unlock's website for employers) provides advice, guidance and templates for developing fair recruitment policies. By making these resources accessible to employers, Unlock opens up opportunities to their beneficiaries – people with convictions.

The site is viewed by around 8,000 users each quarter, and about 80% of these are new users. Users tell Unlock that they find the site when they are searching for guidance on specific topics – asking about criminal records, carrying out DBS checks etc. Recent employers who have used these resources in their policy making include EDF, Bat Conservation Trust and The Key, a membership organisation providing advice and support to 10,000 schools.

The current project funded by Esmée followed on from an earlier grant which began our employment-focused work, and the experience of having a conversation about the next phase of work was a positive one. Issues around criminal records and treatment by employers are deeply entrenched and will not be solved overnight. Having a funder that recognises this is invaluable. The nature of the work is complex, and Esmée trusts our expertise as an organisation to adapt to an ever-changing environment; this allows us to work to our strengths and be responsive where opportunities arise.

Hannah Lim

Grants Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Unlock are well placed to identify issues that are central to rehabilitation, and commit to achieving change in the long term.

The importance of sustained employment to rehabilitation is well evidenced, yet through its case work Unlock identified consistently poor practice. Individuals affected often had very little influence or power to challenge inappropriate checks, and without Unlock would have remained voiceless. Young people in particular can find that a relatively minor transgression ends up having a significant long term impact on their life chances.

Empowering people with the information to know how, when or even if they need to disclose their conviction is particularly important. Unlock provides a range of simple tools to do so, and are recognised as an expert in the field by employers and the DBS, who will also refer queries.

Unlock finds effective ways to support employers and government, ensuring the organisation is constantly connected to the issues it seeks to challenge.