Partnership between business charity and local construction firm creates life-changing opportunity for Leicester ex-offender

- Businesses asked to help make a difference -



When an ex-offender embarked on a four-week work placement with local construction firm Stepnell organised by business charity Leicestershire Cares, he little knew how it would transform his life.

Thanks to that placement a year ago, 32-year-old Olson Murrain – who lives in Highfields, Leicester - has a steady, full-time job with Stepnell as a plasterer and finisher and is building himself a new career in the construction industry. Leicestershire Cares is currently looking to hear from more businesses keen to contribute to their communities by offering opportunities to help people in similar situations regain their confidence and get back into the workplace.

Olson’s placement was made possible through the Leicestershire Cares Community Safety programme which places ex-offenders with local employers for work experience. His attitude so impressed the Stepnell team that he was offered more work with the company, leading to a full-time job. He is currently part of the Stepnell team working on a new-build housing scheme in Scraptoft.

‘I enjoy getting up because I’m happy to be working’

“This has made a big difference to my life,” says Olson. “These days I enjoy getting up because I’m happy to be working and have a job I like. Leicestershire Cares gave me a lot of support and I think that’s why the placement with Stepnell worked out so well. Dennis Sayer, Leicestershire Cares community safety manager, came with me to the interview for the placement and continued visiting me afterwards to see how I was getting on. My attitude was important too - I worked as hard as possible so that Stepnell could see how focused I am. I’ve learned a lot from the company and am doing new things all the time and moving to different places and working on different projects, which I like. I began working on a major office refurbishment and now I am based on a housing development. The company treats its staff well and the team on site have made me feel really comfortable. My focus is on learning as much as possible and ensuring that my life is stable and that I can be a good role model for my kids.”

Over the past two years, Stepnell and Leicestershire Cares have organised six placements for local people giving them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and a job reference which they can use in their search to find permanent employment.
The Community Safety programme organises two-week mentored work placements during which participants receive close support from Leicestershire Cares and from trained employee volunteers at the company providing the placement.

Dennis Sayer explains the success of the programme: “The Community Safety programme has been running very successfully for nearly 11 years. 66 per cent of people who complete a placement gain employment which ensures that they do not have to re-offend. The clients we help are carefully selected and have to meet our stringent criteria. Just under 2 per cent have re-offended in that time compared to a 67 per cent re-offending rate of those released within two years. Not one person has re-offended whilst on a Leicestershire Cares placement.”

Giving back to the community

Stepnell operations and commercial manager Thomas Sewell says: “We’re a family company with a strong record of giving back to the community in the places where we work and our involvement with Leicestershire Cares is a great way for us to make a difference.  We believe people deserve a second chance and the opportunity to make a fresh start and gain valuable practical skills and work experience. We’re delighted to have been able to support Olson and help him rebuild his life. He’s worked very hard and we’re extremely pleased to have enabled him to begin to build a career in construction.”

If you would like to find out more about getting involved with the work of Leicestershire Cares, please contact Monica Stark, director, or visit

More Stepnell news