Encouraging the public and businesses to realise that recruiting people with criminal convictions can often be greeted with shock, discomfort or sometimes not evoke a response at all. This makes it difficult to encourage the media to share positive stories of people who leave prison and create a contributing life free from crime.
Recently however, this all changed when our managing director, Jacob Hill, took to the main stage at the Conservative Party Conference before introducing the Justice Secretary David Gauke.
“I was so nervous on the day - I’d prepared a speech but I hadn’t prepared for such a large room.
The Justice Secretary is incredibly passionate about supporting people with convictions into employment and he felt I could add a relatable story to members of the party so that they too will become advocates for more people with convictions to be able secure employment.
As I entered the stage I remember thinking how long the walk was to lectern. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how people would receive the talk. Were the Conservatives ready to do away with pure punishment and instead consider rehabilitation as an option? What were the BBC going to post about this and what might be in my speech that would evoke such a negative response that we’d have people banging down our office doors?
All these questions started coming to my head but now I had reached lectern and it was time to say my piece, to represent Offploy, and - more importantly - represent the 11 million people with criminal convictions who just want a fair chance at getting a job.
As soon as I began talking I felt immediately at ease, I said my bit (which you can watch below) and then welcomed the Justice Secretary David Gauke on stage before exiting.
After the talk I met with MPs from all over the country interested in advancing the agenda further. I am really pleased with how it went and grateful to have had the opportunity to share my story.”
Offploy has seen a significant increase in businesses joining our service since the Conservative Party Conference which we believe has given companies the confidence to publicly recruit people with convictions into their organisations and address the talent shortage.
Watch Jacob at the conference here.