We caught up with Shaun last week, a beneficiary we started working with back in 2012.
Shaun was released from HMP Pentonville in January 2012 having served six years of a 12 year sentence. When we met him, Shaun was quite verbal about what he called the “do gooders” who come into prison, promise prisoners all kind of help, and then disappear. We were very keen to show him that we’re not in the habit of making promises we can’t keep. He told us:
“When you are in prison all sorts of do-gooders promise you this and that but when you are released these promises disappear.
A Fairer Chance stuck with me and I have now been employed for over four years. This wouldn’t have happened without Maggie and her people. It works both ways though.
If someone is happy to sit in their cell all day and make excuses about no-one wanting to help them they will never get a job. My advice to those people still incarcerated is to take advantage of all available training and education opportunities, show you can graft and then harass your probation worker on release until you are referred to A Fairer Chance”.
A Fairer Chance has enjoyed a long working relationship with Be Onsite, a charity who offer industry specific training for people with disadvantages. We prepped and referred Shaun to a selection day for construction jobs at the Olympic Athletes Village, organised by Be Onsite, and he was successful. At sixty years of age and as fit as a fiddle, he worked really hard. So hard, he was one of only two staff working on the whole site to receive a letter of thanks and a small monetary award for his valued efforts.
Whilst working on this contract at the Olympic Games site, the company promoted him to supervisor. During this time, we worked with other stakeholders to help Shaun access his construction ‘confined spaces’ and other ‘tickets’ to ensure he was highly employable when the work on the Athletes Village finished. He stayed in touch with us regularly for advice, and, happy with the help and support he received from A Fairer Chance, he even made five peer referrals to us, all of whom we were also able to help into work. He undertook an informal mentoring role with some of the younger workers, supporting them through the process of finding employment after custody.
When Shaun finished the contract at the Olympics Athletes Village, we helped him secure a position working on London’s Crossrail Project. He started in November 2012, but in December Shaun got laid off for four weeks over Christmas. He was so used to working that he didn’t want to sit around. We had some temporary night work opportunities in a major retail outlet, and although he was above the usual level of risk, we worked very hard with him to write a strong and positive disclosure. Shaun was offered the role – and in fact, was offered a permanent job on his second day that he felt bad refusing, but he wanted to get back to his work on the rail.
Shaun returned to Crossrail that January and has continued as a valued member of staff with the same contractor since. In the spring of this year, Shaun was asked to work on the Haymarket tunnel development in Edinburgh. Viewed as a very safe pair of hands, he’s been up in Scotland since, with his subsistence and accommodation paid by the company.
Shaun has stayed in touch with us, participating in university research with our Director, Maggie Walsh MBE. Shaun also joined us at a Jobs Fair at HMP Pentonville as a visitor, to speak with a number of serving prisoners and prison staff about his journey since being released, and was very well received.
We spoke with him last week, catching him on a rest day, as he was on the way to meet his son at a university in the north of England. He hasn’t been out of work a day since we helped him secure his first role after leaving custody; thanks to this, and his compliance with the conditions of his licence, Shaun was granted permission to fly to Spain in order to see members of his family. He told us today, “I’ve got my family back”.