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The prizes in life we fail to win, is because we doubt the strength within

As my Mum always told me throughout my sentence, I urge you to listen, “The prizes in life we fail to win, is because we doubt the strength within”.

In the May of 1999 my life fell apart! I was convicted of the importation of a class A drug and sentenced to four years in prison. I was 19.

I made the most of my time inside, determined that if I would be granted my parole and I kept my head down I would make my time away as productive as possible. So therefore, I worked long hours in the prison kitchen, attended computer courses and I even got addicted to cross stitch! I did anything that would make the time away from my Mum, my Nan and friends more bearable. My hard work paid off and I was granted parole. I then, thankfully, left HMP after serving only two years of a four year sentence.

Life outside was strange. Going out in the dark and even everything generally taken for granted like the feel of a carpet between my toes.

On release the whispers start. ‘ She has been released’…..’ Bet she won’t go anywhere in life’…. Really?!!

I had my first interview two weeks later. The first thing I told my potential employers was that I was released from prison two weeks ago. I had to disclose my conviction as it was not spent and at the time would never become spent. That evening I got the call ….. The job was mine. I was 21.

I am now nearly 35 and for the past 13 years I have worked nonstop. I have never been out of work and now run the UK division for a global company. I go on fantastic holidays. Drive a wonderful car. Eat in lovely places and……………… fill in the gaps! Am I boasting?? Yes maybe I am because people love to see other people fail. Even more so when you have ex-offender printed on your forehead.

So it goes to show that by working hard, having focus, vision and sheer determination then your dreams really can come true.

For me now the old book is well and truly closed because of the information I have learnt from the Unlock website. The new legislation that came into effect in March 2014 means my conviction has now become spent, which I am so thankful for. I know now that I am a different person to the one I was from when I was 19. I have worked hard to make something of my life and no longer have the stigma of an ex-offender on me.

So as I said at the start: ‘My Mum always told me throughout my sentence and I urge you to listen: “The prizes in life we fail to win, Is because we doubt the strength within”’

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