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A lifetime of helping people – don’t hold this one mistake against me

Job refusedMy life hasn’t always been easy. I’ve seen some real tragedy; not least my husband’s suicide which then led to my receiving a criminal record.

I can’t begin to explain what was going on in my head following my husbands suicide. There were days when I thought my heart would break and I struggled to get out of bed and other days when I felt angry at what he had done. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and this ultimately led to me getting into real difficulty with the benefits office.

My conviction isn’t something that I’m proud of but it happened and I can’t change the past. I guess you just have to learn from your mistakes and make sure you don’t repeat them.

I’ve worked all my life in a variety of jobs, a lot of them being in the care sector. I’ve always been very upfront and honest with employers about my conviction, never shying away from disclosing. Employers always want to know more and I’ve always taken the view that if it helps them to made a decision then I’ll tell them whatever they need to know. In the majority of cases, my conviction hasn’t caused me any problems.

I was excited beyond belief when in May 2013, I read about the introduction of new government legislation around the filtering of convictions from DBS checks. Sadly, the excitement didn’t last long when I discovered that despite only having one conviction, I had more than one count which automatically made my offence ineligible for filtering. It certainly would have made things easier for me if I didn’t have to disclose my conviction, but I didn’t let this get me down.

So onwards and upwards. I decided that now would be the time to turn my hand to something different and I applied for a job as an NVQ Assessor in Health and Social Care.

Before too long I’d been invited to an interview and, as always, I explained that I had a conviction and how it had come about. I felt that I’d built up a good rapport with the interviewer and I was over the moon when he told me that my conviction wouldn’t be a problem saying:

You’ve been upfront, you’ve not tried to hide it and, it was a long time ago’

The following week, I was invited to meet up with the Regional Manager. We discussed training dates and I had my photograph taken for my ID badge. It was coming up to Christmas and I thought this might hold up my DBS check, so I felt that realistically I’d probably start work towards the end of January.

Then, out of the blue, I received an email stating that my DBS certificate had come back and, as it ‘wasn’t clean’ my application could go no further. Apparently the organisation had a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards people with convictions.

I was stunned. I’d disclosed my conviction at the very first opportunity, I had extensive practical experience and relevant qualifications. I felt angry that my time had been wasted but also totally deflated. I wanted to give up and hide away.

I’ve always considered myself to be a strong individual but my confidence and self-esteem were shot to bits. I didn’t know what to do next. This one negative experience seemed to outweigh all the positives in my life.

Then, whilst searching the internet one night, I came across Unlock. I didn’t feel that I had anything to lose so, I put pen to paper and set out my experience. I didn’t expect them to do anything but I’d read that they wanted to challenge the Government’s filtering legislation and I thought I’d add my name to their campaign.

Some time later, into my inbox popped an email from Unlock. They asked me for some more information, said they might be able to help me. This was all it took to fire me up again. My confidence returned and I knew that I needed to do something different – something totally different. So I applied to university to become a student and my application was accepted.

Unlock wrote to the NVQ company highlighting their poor recruitment practice and how they had contravened the DBS Code of Practice in they way they’d dealt with me. They received a letter back stating that there had been a miscommunication issue and that they didn’t have a zero tolerance policy! I’ve not pursued a role with this company any further as I’m of the firm belief that I wouldn’t want to work for an organisation that had this type of attitude towards me, but hopefully it might help others in the future.

I made one bad mistake when my world was in crisis, but I’ve actually devoted the rest of my life trying to help others. I’m determined that this is what I’ll continue to do.

By Angie (name changed to protect identity)


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