Kickstarting a New Life

The Kickstart Fund has distributed €1.3m across 54 training and employment Social Enterprises (SEs) in three funding rounds. Its primary objective is to enhance job opportunities for individuals with criminal convictions facing challenges in accessing the labour market. Interactions Ltd was commissioned to evaluate the impact of Kickstart funding on creating employment opportunities within Social Enterprises (SEs) for people with criminal convictions.

Purpose of Evaluation:

The evaluation aimed to ensure accountability and validation of the fund’s performance, assessing relevance, coherence, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability. Additionally, it compiled lessons learned and provides recommendations for the potential continuation of the fund in subsequent years.


The evaluation encompassed the perspectives of both funded Social Enterprises and individuals with criminal convictions employed through the program

Impact on Social Enterprises:

  • Over half of surveyed SEs credited Kickstart for considering employing individuals with criminal convictions, expanding their talent pool.
  • Most SEs had hired individuals with convictions, with over 80% of these positions being newly created through Kickstart funding.
  • Awardee organizations reported significantly positive outcomes, such as increased revenue, cultural changes, and heightened focus on social inclusion.
  • Internal culture shifts within organizations led to indirect benefits like enhanced empathy, tolerance, and understanding of social inclusion.

Impact on Beneficiaries/Employees:

  • Beneficiaries experienced positive outcomes, with 62% still employed at the same SE post-release.
  • Despite no mainstream employment post-programme, 80% believed they were likely to secure it, emphasising the programme’s positive impact on their employability.


  • Kickstart beneficiaries valued employment support, skill utilisation, inclusive environments, discipline, routine, and coaching/mentoring.
  • The majority felt these benefits would last over 2-3 years, with personal development and skill utilisation having the longest-lasting impact.

Intermediate Outcomes:

  • Beneficiaries gained practical skills and experienced positive changes in self-perception, relationships, resilience, and integration into society.

Final Outcomes:

  • Improved employability was a primary outcome, along with enhanced confidence, mental well-being, ambition, and expanded social networks.
  • 60% felt prepared for mainstream employment.

To access the evaluation report on the Kickstart Fund click here 

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