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26 years on the inside

Tony has a phenomenal story to tell. It’s the kind of story that can restore the faith of many other individuals who have been through the prison system. Especially to those who have spent a huge chunk of their life, on the inside. Tony’s journey shows that there is life beyond a prison sentence.

As a service and a team, we love having the ability to mentor diverse individuals who have been through an odyssey of some form. Every journey is different. We learn as much from each candidate as they do from us. It is important to build and maintain a strong cohesion.

Tony’s residence for the last 26 years was the inside of a prison cell. Now, you can imagine what spending almost half of your life inside the same restricted walls can do to a person’s mental health, confidence and drive. However, Tony bounced back strong upon release from his lengthy sentence.

Tony was referred to us through the DWP back in late 2019. Glenn, our Social Employment Adviser (SEA), was the first point of contact for Tony when joining our service. Glenn swiftly signed him up and officially enrolled him onto our programme. The first point of call was to identify the main barriers that he felt he had and spend some 1-2-1 time assessing his needs.

The “obvious” barrier being that this man had spent the last 26 years of his life in prison, however, Tony was more than willing to participate and push himself to achieve. We quickly learned that Tony utilised his time inside prison by working as a tailor. He had developed new and transferable skills to use in the outside world, this was music to our ears! We couldn’t wait to further enhance his skills to ensure he had the highest chance of securing an employment position at the end of his Offploy journey.

Tony quickly enrolled onto our Employability Course and throughout, was engaging, dedicated and reliable; important traits to every employer. He was already on his way to becoming work ready. Once he had completed this course, Tony began attending our candidate clubs, working closely with Dave who is our SEA.

Dave and Glenn have been the main mentors through Tony’s Offploy journey. We are incredibly proud to have such passionate team members who go above and beyond for our candidates. We are even more proud to have candidates who trust in our team and our mission.

With the mentoring services and Tony’s newfound drive and confidence, we moved onto creating him a skills-based CV. Tony felt as though IT skills were not a strong skill of his, with Dave’s help they were able to produce a new and improved CV for Tony to feel proud of.

We have finally reached the main event… job applications! Thinking back to the unsure version of Tony that we first met back in September last year, to the confident and raring to go Tony, that we now have in our presence... it makes everything we do worthwhile.

Tony began applying for jobs. Even though his confidence in himself had flourished, there was still a small part of him that doubted his ability to gain a response from a potential new employer. But of course, like everything else he had accomplished from leaving prison, he was invited to his first interview in his adult life. This opportunity did not result in employment, however, at this moment in his life, he accepted this bittersweet result and used it to fuel him even more to find his any job, better job, career.

We have all the confidence in the world that Tony will succeed, he has already surpassed his own personal belief in his own ability. Well done Tony for overcoming your barriers and we will continue to support you and look forward to the time when everything falls into place.