In 2011-2012 just 27% of ex-offenders entered employment on release from prison (Source: HM Inspector of Prisons Annual Report 2012). Read personal accounts from ex-offenders we’ve supported to go Straight for Work.
On leaving school I started an apprenticeship with a crane company, this in turn led to me becoming a trainee engineer/fitter. Over a few years I was promoted to Workshop Manager and also qualified as an Instructor. The work was demanding and consumed much time and energy, because of this I began to neglect my family responsibilities which contributed to my coming to prison.
Prison had a very profound effect on me but it gave me time to reflect on where I went wrong and thankfully an opportunity to start to sort myself out. During my sentence my journey to release changed. I embraced my sentence, listened to my Offender Manager and engaged with addressing my offending behaviour. I was moved to open conditions and immediately set about securing meaningful employment for when I am released.
It was at this time I first came across the Royal London Society. I was told about them and approached them asking for their help so I could update my electrical engineering qualifications. They were very helpful and supportive and agreed to help me achieve my immediate aims.
While in open conditions I started to work with the Resettlement Team in the prison and this in turn brought me back into contact with Royal London Society and their work helping other prisoners. I found this work to be very rewarding and have increasingly thought about a change of direction with my own employment plans.
Royal London Society was again very supportive and helped me think through my future. I have now come to a decision and intend to work within the voluntary sector helping others when I am released early next year. I have secured a job placement with a housing charity and plan to build on that experience when released.
Without the support of Royal London Society and others these opportunities would not be available to me. They have given me that all important second chance.
I first heard of Royal London Society when I started to work as an IAG Peer Mentor within the Resettlement Department of my then prison. I was moved to open conditions and again started to work with the Resettlement Department there.
Prior to prison I had worked within the transport industry and planned to return to that work on release. My plan was to qualify to drive ‘dangerous goods’ as I knew there were vacancies for suitably qualified drivers. The training costs were well out of my reach without the help of charitable trusts. I was reminded of my earlier contact with the Royal London Society so I wrote to tell them of my plan and asked for an application form.
I received a helpful letter and a simple, plain English application form. I read the guidelines and put together the information they asked for and returned the form together with that all important supportive letter from the prison.
Within a few days I received a postcard to say they had got my application. They wrote again a couple of weeks later asking me to give them more information about the training I needed and the costs. I sent them the information they asked for and asked when would the grant committee make a decision?
A few days after the grant committee meeting I received a letter from Royal London Society to say they would help with the training costs. The prison contacted them and asked if the funding could go directly to the training provider along with some other money I had raised, they agreed to this without any fuss or bother. I completed the training and achieved the qualification; this has widened my employment options.
Without organisations like Royal London Society and others my opportunity of employment would be very difficult and my future bleak. With them and their support I can make proper decisions about my future and avoid the pitfalls of my past.
I’m not sure how to start this letter or what to say in it. I want to say thank you for your help and contribution towards my Heavy Goods Class 2 licence.
I can’t describe the emotion I felt knowing that the months I’d spent putting my application packs together weren’t just a waste of time, despite everybody in the prison service and my probation telling me it was.
To know there are people out there willing to help people like me to get on and better their lives, gave me a feeling I can’t describe. So on behalf of my family and myself I just want to say thank you.
Since receiving your letter I have gained all the funding I require to do my Heavy Goods Class 2 licence. I have been in contact with Mainstream the Heavy Goods Training Centre and have booked my course for the 9th. I’ve enclosed the letter they sent me including payment details.
I’ve had to re-sit my theory test because it had run out whilst I was incarcerated. I re-sat and passed the test again on the 31-7-13, so I’m all ready to now start my H.G.V class 2 training course. Fingers crossed I pass as you know I’m planning to take my H.G.V class 1 training course after.
I know you require proof I have obtained all the cost I require to do the course before you will issue me your contribution so I’ve included letters with funding to the sum of £800 to show I’ve reached my target and have gained a further £500 towards my H.G.V class 1.
I will of course keep you fully informed and up to date on how I’m doing and the outcome of my H.G.V class 2 test.
Thank you all again for your support your have helped give me the tools I require to change my life.
Yours sincerely, xxxx
Dear Mr Cox,
Re: My grant award ref xxxx
I write to express my gratitude for the grant of £100 your society awarded me. I cannot fully express how happy your letter for the grant brought to me. It is a turning point in my life because I believe God that on completion of the intended course, I will be able to use my experience and qualification to do well in this new career. It would also give me a welcome challenge to do much better so that even I am released from prison, I would be able to contact you and let you know how well I am doing in life, as a result of your grant.
I am now in the process of getting the prison to make the payment to the course provider so that I will have the study materials sent to me. I will keep you updated as soon as I commence the course. I do not expect any delay from the prison in terms of making the payment to the school.
Once again, I am ever grateful for this award from you. My promise to you is that I will get the best from this course and will never come to prison again ever in life.
Thanks so much and God bless you all.
Yours sincerely, xxxx
Dear Peter Cox,
In response to your letter dated 18/09/13, I want to than you for granting my funding application. I also wish to inform you that I am currently doing a stonemasonry apprenticeship with a charity called changing paths in Rochester. My tutor is very pleased with my progress and I also received recently a highly commended award in this year’s Koestler awards for a sculpture of a Tudor rose which I was very pleased with.
It is with this in mind that I have decided to do a college course in computer aided design. I have also managed to raise some funding from another charity and with the funding that you have kindly granted me I now have enough funding to enrol for the next course which commences in Feb 2014. This is a level 2 course and the cost of this is £565.
I am hoping that with this course as well as the stonemasonry that it would greatly improve my employability opportunity for the future.
Peter I want to say thanks again for your help and support for making all of this possible for me and I will keep you updated with my progress with this course.
Yours sincerely, xxxx
I am writing this letter to Thank you and all the board for the funding that I have been granted.
This has given me a great opportunity to gain meaningful employment for upon my release. I will be starting the 17th Edition wiring and reg of Electrical Installation in the very near future with Ableskills training centre Dartford Kent.
I will have to do the Testing and Inspections of Electrical Installations Certificate. And am hoping to get the funding via St Giles Trust. With the both of the above will then bring me up to date with my electrical qualifications.
I believe the Royal London Society has given me the best opportunity to live a law abiding lifestyle, and giving me direction and stability for my future.
Many thanks for your assistance.
Yours sincerely, xxxx
Dear Mr Peter Cox,
I am very pleased and grateful for the financial assistance the Royal London Society has granted me. I realise that I’ll face challenges in securing employment. The stigma of being in prison and also approaching the age of 63 years old.
That is why it is important for me to gain qualifications and training.
I would be happy for you to include my award in your ‘Good news’ stories.
Once again thank you and the Royal London Society.
Yours sincerely, xxxx