A COMPUTER recycling firm has won a top award for its work in improving the lives and prospects of prisoners.

Tier 1, based in Stanley Road, Whitefield, has scooped a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise after launching a unique workshop programme at HMP Forest Bank.

Together with the charity ANTZ, the firm’s groundbreaking scheme has helped more than 130 offenders leave prison with qualifications in IT.

Jonathan Rose, Tier 1 co-founder and managing director, said: “Winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is one of our proudest achievements.

“It is also a testament to the dedication and support of all the staff at Tier 1 who are fully supportive and involved in our prison workshop initiative. Without them being an active part of our story this achievement would not have been possible.”

Under the programme, Tier 1 built a recycling workshop at Forest Bank where it takes broken IT equipment that cannot be fixed at the company’s warehouse.

The kit is then dismantled by prisoners into component parts, helping many gain an NVQ qualification in the process.

Tier 1’s scheme also supports prisoners find work experience, education, employment, apprenticeships and volunteering positions ­— with some going on to work at the firm’s Whitefield base.

Matt Spencer, director of Justice Services at Forest Bank, said: “It has been a pleasure working in partnership with Tier 1 for a number of years now.

“They continually show their commitment to helping Forest Bank instil a work ethic amongst our residents and have provided work to keep our residents busy during their custodial sentence.

“Tier 1 have worked in partnership with us to provide work for hundreds of residents over the years so that they leave Forest Bank with a much greater chance of useful and productive employment on release.”

Beyond the prison gates Tier 1 funds additional support for ex-prisoners from the recycling programme, provided by the ANTZ's Through the Gate back-to-work programme.

It is also working to confront a UK-wide problem as dismantling the IT equipment avoids any kit being sent to landfill.

A report published in February found that the UK was the worst offender for illegally disposing of electronic waste, dumping shipments in Nigeria, Tanzania and Pakistan.

Mr Rose said: “It’s a win-win situation. The prison provides a local base which we can visit for any day-to-day operational matters. It reduces waste transportation time and costs. Whilst we might be a ‘for profit’ business, we use our profits to make a real difference.”

He added: “We have always tried to conduct our business in a professional and ethical manner.

“To be recognised for this with such an accolade makes all our efforts worthwhile. To win the award for Promoting Opportunity, where only five other businesses have been selected, makes this even more special.”