Five years ago today, I was released from prison.
I was so nervous for my release that society would judge me and not afford me the opportunity to repay my debt. I lived in a 700+ person prison where people would reoffend just to come back because outside was 'too much'.
Just by having a family, a caring partner and a home to get out to, I knew I would never want to go back in there but still held this fear of 'what if that's it for me? What if I can't get another chance at doing something meaningful with the rest of my life?'
Thankfully, we live in a society that is forgiving and that does welcome people back from prison. We are by no means perfect but that is the beauty of humanity. There must be challenge so there can be debate and then ultimately understanding.
Soon to be celebrating five years of running Offploy, we have helped over 1000 people with convictions overcome all sorts of hurdles of reintegration. I have seen a significant uplift in the last two years of employers no longer asking 'if' they should hire people with convictions but 'how' they can do it instead. If you're interested in hiring people with convictions, we would happily refer you to a number of national partners who will help you on this journey. Please get in touch.
I hope my last five years have been as purposeful as they could have been. I'm grateful for all my family who continue to support me; my wonderful partner; my business partner and then the chap who I met in prison 6 years ago who now holds the title of 'Director of Sustainability' at Offploy.
I still owe a debt to society and happily continue to repay it, one day at a time, with the support of
our amazing team, our employers, our candidates and the online community who has helped me spread the message further and wider than I would ever have imagined.
I cannot wait to tell you what we're going to do with the next five years.
Pictured: Me and Mum outside the prison on my day of release. Expertly taken by Brenda (Nan).