Employing someone with a criminal conviction and giving them a second chance can bring enormous benefits to your organisation.
People who have been in prison very rarely want to go back. This makes them hungrier for success, more motivated to work hard and more loyal to you. As well as increasing diversity within your workplace you will be giving someone the chance for a brighter future. Here’s our guide on how to open up your workplace to people with criminal convictions.
- Remove the criminal convictions tick box from application forms
The criminal record tix box is used to exclude people with criminal records from employment opportunities. Give them a fairer chance to compete based on their potential not their past.
- Guarantee interviews
Ex-offenders may have very little experience of attending interviews, and can at times lack self-confidence. Offering guaranteed interviews with same day feedback allows them to gain invaluable experience.
- Offer work trials
Work trials are a great opportunity for employers to assess the candidate and it is a great way for the individual to gain work experience in a real work situation.
I was in foster care. I struggled with my mental health. I didn’t get the help I needed when I asked for it. I got in with the wrong crowd and I went from drinking every day to drinking and doing drugs daily.
I then met my now ex-husband. My mental health deteriorated. He took me away from my friends and family. He got me clean but I put on so much weight because of the medication I was on. I went back to amphetamines and legal highs.
We used to physically and mentally abuse each other. The drugs did not help.I was feeling very mentally unstable. That’s when I threatened to kill. I went to prison. I got a two year suspended sentence and two year probation – it was a wake up call.
I moved to a hostel and broke up with my ex. I wasn’t in a good place. I was experiencing anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. I was hallucinating. I couldn’t make eye contact with people, have an everyday conversation. I was hostile to everyone.
I ended up going back home to my mum. We had a volatile relationship but somehow it worked and I started getting better. And my probation worker introduced me to Shaw Trust.
At the start, I was quite suspicious of the programme. I didn’t want their help. But then, with time I learnt to trust my case manager. I started to feel calmer, more confident. He found me accommodation and helped me get support from a mental health worker. He suggested interesting things to develop my skills. I volunteered at the stables but it didn’t work out because of my anxiety.
My case manager encouraged me to apply for a voluntary job at a charity shop and helped me with my CV and interview practice. I got the job and my hours quickly increased, I then was offered a paid manager role.
I also got set up with the Prince’s Trust Enterprise scheme. I want to run a business as a jewellery maker, I’ve always liked making things. And I’ve got a mentor who keeps me on track.
A major turning point was when I completed the induction day at the Prince’s Trust. To be accepted and be laughing with ‘mainstream’ people rather than socially excluded homeless people with mental health problems meant a lot.
I used to feel really isolated. In the past I tried to buy people’s friendship and make people like me but they weren’t genuine relationships. I’ve now made a friend through the programme. We’ve had similar problems with drinking but we’ve found other things we can do together. It is possible if you’ve got someone supporting you.
I still need to gain more confidence in myself and my life to deal with my anxiety. But I feel I’ve come such a long way and I look forward to what the future brings.
If you’re an employer, we have a number of clients who are looking for jobs, who have either served time inside prison, or have been sentenced to a community order. Email opportunities to email@example.com.
Read a day in the life of a Rehabilitation Case Worker (opens in a new tab or window)