I spent about 20 years of my life abusing drugs and grafting to pay for them (you name it, shoplifting, card fraud, car crime etc). I didn’t consider doing anything else, it was just a way of life for me.
Well, as you can no doubt imagine, the day came when my luck ran out – arrested, charged and convicted. A 6 year custodial sentence for drug dealing. It was probably the shock I needed although I didn’t quite see it that way at the time. When the judge handed down the sentence, it was hard to see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
I quickly realised there was no point in feeling sorry for myself. Nothing to be gained by sitting in a cell smoking, drinking coffee and watching television. I began to realise that I wasn’t getting any younger and ‘ducking and diving’ wasn’t for me anymore. I needed to go straight, give up my old ways. Only one problem – what would I do? What could I do?
I began signing up for courses which would give me new skills or knowledge and I really used my time constructively. When my release date arrived, I’d already got myself a job lined up with a company that gives ex-offenders a second chance.
I enjoyed the work and stayed for about 18 months. Since then, I’ve signed up with several agencies and I’ve been working in warehouse/production type jobs. I’m not afraid of hard work and I bring home about £450 per week.
I always disclose my convictions – I don’t want the hassle of my boss finding out and being sacked – its just not worth it. So far, disclosure hasn’t caused me too many problems. I think agencies and employers value my honesty. I’m realistic about what and where I can work and I know my limitations, but I’m working and doing OK. One of the agencies I’d signed on with gave me a temporary placement at a huge production company. I’ve worked really hard since I’ve been there, keen to let my current work do the talking, not my past. I’ve been with the company about a year now and it looks as though I’m about to be taken on by them directly. This will obviously give me a lot more security but will also open a lot more doors for me – a pension, promotion ………
Getting work these days is hard – even without a criminal record. All I can say is, stick with it and good luck.
By Michael (name changed to protect identity)
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