We have recently seen an increase in the number of women either approaching us directly or being referred from our partners. This may be due to the recent “Transforming Rehabilitation” changes as provision for support finding employment, particularly for women leaving prison, appears to be difficult to access. Two women stand out in in particular who we met in the last couple of weeks.
Edwina was referred back to A Fairer Chance by her advisor at the work programme provider PeoplePlus. She served half a 12 year sentence for a non-violent crime but in the two years since her release she hasn’t been able to access paid work. Initially we had helped Edwina secure a role while she was in custody, on “release on temporary licence”, but then she was transferred to another prison so she couldn’t take up the post. When she came back to us, we met with her to discuss her hopes for employment, helped her to prepare for her interview for a paid retail role, and ten days later she started working. The feedback we received from the store after her interview was very strong and Edwina was very pleased with the way we had helped her, for securing the job and supporting her during the interview process but also for having faith in her and her ability to work.
Then we met Pam, a young graduate who had made one bad decision under extreme duress which resulted in a court appearance. Again this was for a non-violent offence. She lost her job, her debt mounted and her confidence was shattered. She was referred to us with the aim of helping her to find a retail post but talking to her we could see she had excellent administration, research and Public Relations skills. We secured a vacancy for an administrator with a multinational property development company, and the fit seemed a good one. We advised Pam to research the employer, polish up her CV and supported her to work on a letter of disclosure for her criminal conviction. Pam was very nervous but did well at interview and started work, on a good salary, on a prestigious West End site two weeks ago.
Both these cases demonstrate how people with convictions can and do make great employees when they are able to meet employers who are aware they are offenders but have balanced that against the skills, attitude and loyalty our beneficiaries bring to their company.
We work with transport and engineering contractors as well as retail and hospitality companies who genuinely welcome applications from our women. Our hope is to be able to offer a London wide service in the near future. As this is a work in progress, we’ll keep you posted with updates.