Skip to main content

Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Moving on: Unlock, who are we and what do we do?

This month, we’ve written a further article for InsideTime ‘Through the Gate’ Section which gives a bit more information about who Unlock are.

A copy of the article can be found below.

Since 2016, Unlock has written regularly for Inside Time’s ‘Through the Gate’ section which focuses on some of the issues that people leaving prison may come up against. This article explains what Unlock does and how we may be able to help you now, or in the future.

Unlock was established in 1999 by a group of former prisoners and became a charity in 2000. We help people with convictions by providing information, advice and support to overcome the effects of their criminal record and move on positively. This is all delivered by peers who understand the challenges faced when dealing with the long term effects of a conviction – over 50% of our trustees and staff, and all of our volunteers, are people with convictions. We have a track record of delivering successful campaigns and projects, including influencing the reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, developing agreements for prisoners to open bank accounts before release and providing an online ‘Disclosure Calculator’.

Perhaps the most useful element of our work for anybody in prison is our helpline, which provides confidential expert advice and information. Common areas we cover include understanding the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, the way criminal record checks work, disclosing to employers, buying insurance and travelling abroad. Our helpline telephone number is on the prison global list so you don’t need to add it to your PIN, making it easier for you to contact us.

In addition to our self-help information hub, our other websites include a disclosure calculator, an online tool which calculates when convictions become spent and no longer have to be disclosed for the majority of jobs and insurance – resettlement staff or friends or family outside can check this for you. We also have an online magazine, theRecord, and a peer-to-peer forum.

We provide direct support to approximately 8,000 people each year through our helpline (we can be contacted by telephone, letter and email) and over 1.3 million people access our online services, including our self-help information site –

Providing practical support to individuals and understanding the difficulties they face means we can tailor our information and advice. It also helps us work with government, employers, insurers and others to influence their policies, practices and attitudes. Our aim is to create a fairer and more inclusive society, where law-abiding people with convictions can move on positively with their lives.

If you need advice on overcoming the difficulties that you’re experiencing as a result of your criminal record, please get in touch with our helpline. We provide information and advice on a wide range of subjects but we’re not able to provide you with legal advice or assist you in appealing your sentence or conviction.

If you have any ideas for a subject you’d like us to cover in one of our regular articles then please let us know what topics you’d like us to address. We’d like to hear from you as this helps us to provide the most relevant and up-to-date information and advice for all users of our service.


Add Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

Do you need help & support with an issue you’re facing?

We provide support and advice for people who need guidance with either their own, or someone else’s, criminal record.

Please use the search box to start typing your issue. If you cannot find an answer to your problem then you’ll be given options to contact us directly.

Find out more about the helpline

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

Help support us now