May 12th, 2011 → 9:04 pm @ John Seah
The Singapore Prison Services engaged Everest Innovation Pte Ltd to deliver three Innovation Workshops for them. 63 participants (WITS Leaders) representing the various units attended, forming 21 Innovation Teams. The participants generated 3500 ideas, of which the best ideas were presented to their management as well as used in SPS/ MHA WITS competitions.
Time period: MARCH – APRIL 2004
All Everest Innovation projects begin with the client’s business mission statement or their toughest business problems. For our client, Singapore Prison Services, their mission was to be Captains of Lives, to Rehab, to Renew and to Restart. With all their officers’ dedication, many inmates were released from prison in high spirit and greatly motivated to change a new live. However, the society did not accept them. As the result, the ex-inmates went hungry and returned to crimes.
How did our Consultant value-add?
The prison officers brought the problem for brainstorming in our workshops. Using the techniques taught, our thought processes and brainstorming techniques solved the problem as follows:
Problem Statement 1:
Our inmates could not get jobs AFTER they were released from prison
How can our inmates get jobs BEFORE they were released?
Problem Statement 2
Our inmates could not get jobs because their tattoos would frighten off their clients
How can our inmates get jobs where clients would not see their tattoos?
The participants then proceeded to generate several hundred ideas based on the paraphrased problem statements.
The Innovative Achievement:
At the end of Ideas Sorting phase, one idea stood up as the answer to the above problem statements: Call Center behind bars, the First in the World
Through this idea, the inmates could be working BEFORE they were released WHILE they were still in the prison. It helped the inmates better integrate with the society in preparation for them to restart their live anew. They were also trained on Customer Service Skills, Handling Difficult Customer Skills and Problem Solving Skills.
See Straits 24 August 2005, headlined “24 hours Call Center – behind Bars”
Publication Date: 24/08/2005 Pub: Straits Time Page: 3
By: Tanya Fong
Page Heading: Prime
HOW CAN I HELP YOU, SIR? : Female inmates at the Changi Prison Complex turn phone operators and telemarketers in rotating 12-hour shifts.
Corporation: Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises, Score
Subject: Singapore Rehabilitation
IT’S the prison that never sleeps.
Female inmates at the Changi Prison Complex are working as phone operators and telemarketers in a 24-hour call-centre. They answer queries on everything from mobile prepaid phone cards to how to work a consumer product.
The 38 women turn up for ‘work’ in rotating 12-hour shifts. The call centre is housed in an office about the size of a basketball court.
They may not be able to take tea breaks whenever they like, but judging from their enthusiasm as they pick up calls, these workers enjoy their jobs.
Aris, a 32-year-old inmate serving a six-year term for cheating, loves every minute of it.
‘I was a workaholic before, and not having anything to do in jail made me feel down,’ said the university graduate. ‘Being in this programme helped me to be myself once again because I feel useful.’
The high-tech call centre was set up last December at the Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
It is the latest project initiated by the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) to create work for inmates and to rehabilitate them while they serve their sentences. Score’s first project was a 24-hour laundromat in the Changi Prison Complex, the largest in South-east Asia. It was rolled out last year.
Fifteen of the inmates handle outgoing telemarketing calls, while the rest handle incoming calls. All calls are controlled by the phone and computer systems.
Calls come in via a switchboard and are automatically transferred to an operator, while outgoing calls are pre-programmed and made via the computers’ controlled dialling system.
Conversations are monitored by the centre’s supervisors to allay security concerns that inmates may fraternise with callers.
The women get their fair share of nasty customers.
‘When we make sales calls, the potential customer would ask us to call them back,’ said Aris. ‘When we do, we sometimes get a scolding for doing so.’
Connect Centre’s business operations manager, Miss Elena Lim, said: ‘We run this place exactly like a commercial call centre – the difference is that we are doing it behind bars.’
Businesses need some convincing before they sign up as call centre clients.
‘When we make cold calls to potential clients, they sound apprehensive,’ said Miss Lim. ‘But when we take them inside the centre, they end up coming out impressed.’
The reason: The women receive training of a similar standard afforded to people working on the outside. They are trained to project their voices, enunciate their words and handle difficult customers.
The centre has 10 clients, including a telecommunications company and a listed consumer company, both of which declined to be named as they were unsure how their links to the prison would reflect on their businesses.
Said the managing director of the telco: ‘Their set-up is as professional as any call centre. Cost is not a significant factor because the rates are competitive. We decided on them because it’s also our effort to take part in the Yellow Ribbon Project in giving offenders and ex-offenders a second chance.’
Newspaper Article No 2:
Pub Date: 29/07/2005 Pub: Straits Time Page: H8
By: Tanya Fong
Page Heading: Home
SYMBOL OF FORGIVENESS : The prison aims to sell $600,000 worth of such ribbons.
The money goes to the Yellow Ribbon Fund to help former inmates and their families.
HAPPY TUNE : A thank-you song by a former inmate at the launch of this year’s Yellow Ribbon Project at Hard Rock Cafe yesterday.
Subject: Singapore Rehabilitation
40 inmates to work at call centre in Changi Prison in rehabilitation drive THAT sweet and warm female voice which greets you at the end of the line when you next call a product hotline could be from behind Changi Prison walls.
A 24-hour call centre has been set up at the prison’s women’s wing, with about 40 women inmates working as receptionists or telemarketers for private companies.
The women take turns to handle the product hotlines, with six telemarketers at work each time, making calls to potential buyers here.
The centre is run by a private firm, ConnectCall, which set it up in January.
This new venture to help rehabilitate prisoners was made public yesterday at the launch of this year’s Yellow Ribbon Project campaign.
The campaign, now in its second year, aims to rally the support of the community in giving former prisoners a second chance.
Inmates are trained in relevant skills so that they are employable when they are released, said the chairman of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score), Mr Kong Mun Kwong.
‘We are now developing skills for the services and IT industries and one example is the call centre in the women’s prison,’ he added.
Last year’s campaign resulted in more than 120 employers coming forward to provide jobs and training opportunities. Fast-food chain KFC was one of them.
Although the number of former prisoners who were matched with jobs is not available, the boost in employer numbers indicated the campaign’s success.
The name of the project was inspired by the 1970s pop song Tie A Yellow Ribbon (Round The Old Oak Tree), about a former prisoner’s mixed feelings about going home to his loved ones.
The yellow ribbon signifies the acceptance and forgiveness from family members and the wider community.
Said the director of Singapore Prison Service, Mr Chua Chin Kiat: ‘For people to get involved wholeheartedly in a project like this, they must first understand why it’s necessary to rehabilitate ex offenders.’
He said many prisoners do want to change and return to society and the rehabilitation programme is crucial in paving the way for them to do so. About 11,000 inmates are released from prison every year.
More than 320,000 ribbons – cut and attached with safety pins by inmates -were sold for $1 each last year. This year, the prison aims to sell $600,000 worth of ribbons.
The money goes to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which is used to help the former inmates and their families.
More than 5,000 people have signed up to take part in the Tie-A-Yellow-Ribbon Walk with former offenders on Sept 3, when they will walk from the old Changi Prison to Pasir Ris Town Park.
The walk will launch this year’s campaign.
Yellow ribbons will be tied around trees along the route and the walk will end with a carnival with games and food.
Members of the public are urged to take part. Free shuttle bus services from Pasir Ris MRT station will be available from 7.15am on the day of the walk.