Ink2Work scheme at H.M.P. Belmarsh

Ink2Work, a collaborative project between XMA, Green Office Co-op, National Offender Management Service (NOMS), ONE3ONE Solutions and HMP Belmarsh, is giving vulnerable prisoners the opportunity to learn new skills and get ready for employment after their release. 

Green Office Co-op is a community interest company that employs people who would not ordinarily be able to find work. They train their staff to sustainably remanufacture empty printer cartridges for re-use. Officers Andy Sharp and John Lawther from HMP Belmarsh have worked closely with Green Office Co-op to build a functioning branch of their workshop within the prison.

Andy said: “the biggest challenge we faced was going from being prison officers to running a business, and getting our heads around everything while trying to get others on board”.

Andy and John have been instrumental in the success of the project, which came out of a partnership formed by ONE3ONE Solutions in October 2013.

The programme currently employs 18 offenders within HMP Belmarsh and is set up to replicate a real working environment. Prisoners must attend an interview and pass induction, training, and a probationary period. They also have regular appraisals to discuss their development. They wear an Ink2Work branded uniform and spend a full working day, including lunch break, in the workshop.

This realistic work environment helps to give prisoners purpose, self-confidence and, most importantly, the skills to succeed in employment after their release. One prisoner said: “I know I never want to go on the dole when I get out because I’ll probably get back into a bad crowd. Working here has given me options; the chance to have a fresh start.” John said “you can really see the difference it is making to the prisoners working here.

There are also benefits to the prison itself. The reuse of printer cartridges within the prison has reduced costs and assisted with meeting environmental targets.

Despite its relatively short history, the programme has already demonstrated its ability to deliver true, triple bottom line, benefits:



The use of remanufactured printer cartridges represents an average 25% costs savings to Government. Local remanufacturing delivers local economic benefits through the provision of local goods and services – occupancy rent and rates, components, packaging, freight business and design services, etc.


Purposeful employment while in prison and sustainable employment on release has been proven to be the single most effective intervention in reducing the rate of reoffending or in deterring a return to a substance abuse culture.


The overwhelming majority of remanufactured printer cartridges sold in the UK have been remanufactured in either SE Asia or non-EU countries in Eastern Europe. This leads to significantly higher energy costs and GHG production compared to remanufacture close to the point of use.

Additionally, the programme has demonstrated that stakeholders across Public, Private and Third Sectors can work together to deliver sustainable and local employment opportunities for those furthest from work without the need for direct government subsidy. All that is required is a diversion of current spend across Central Government and beyond.

England and Wales cumulatively release 60,000 offenders each year, of which 60% reoffend within 12 months, costing the UK tax payer £11billion every year.

75% of ex -offenders have no job on release, yet empirical data has demonstrated that by securing sustainable employment the probability of reoffending will reduce by up to 55%.

Source: National Offender Management Service, 2013