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Guest Blog: The Gift of Christmas

By David Heathcote

In this blog I offer Christmas as a time of renewal and opportunity for all, including people with convictions, to be seized with far greater determination than any transient New Year’s resolution. Freedom from prison provides freedom to live. Christmas is a time to transform our lives.

For Christians around the world, Christmas is a miraculous time which marks the end of the period of expectation with the birth of Jesus. For children and families, Christmas can be a magical time filled with wonder and joy. For some, it brings sadness, loneliness and unfulfillable expectations.

Christmas embraces everyone in Britain: people of all faiths and of none. It offers a reset of relationships as people become kinder to one another and share the common anticipation of a welcome break from the pace and pressures of life. For Christians like me, the original Christmas two thousand and twenty years ago marks God’s great reset of the world, that promised renewal as Jesus, the descendent of David, inherits the Key that will unlock.

O Key of David

And sceptre of the House of Israel

You open and no-one can shut. You shut and no-one can open

Come and free the prisoner from the prison house

Those who dwell in darkness, and the shadow of death

The freedom to transform our lives is in our own hands and we should use our time over the season to consider this, without the pressure of making New Year’s resolutions. According to some studies, around 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fail, which is attributed to factors such as the pressure to stick to them and expectations of failure.

The renewal and rebirth offered in Christmas is different because it focuses on you and who you are, not on an external goal. We should take time over

Christmas to reflect.

The Key of David also offers freedom from the prison of the past, but that freedom is not always offered to people with convictions by society. The gift of employment is central to our lives but there is a box presented to ex-offenders that is filled with dread and disadvantage by most employers: the criminal record declaration on the application form.

Business in the Community’s Ban the Box campaign calls on other companies to join the 145 organisations who give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs by removing the tick box from application forms and instead asking about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process.

In the spirit of Christmas, I call on more employers to sign up to the Ban the Box campaign. We all deserve a second chance and it is in all our interests to rehabilitate those who seek it. A company with such a bold moral compass will surely gain loyal new employees and win respect and admiration from customers.

Christmas gave us all a second chance. Let us all renew and seize it.


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