After the 20th interview, I was sure I would never be employed again

William’s story

 
When I was released from prison, I struggled to find work again. Without help from friends and family, I would likely be back in the midst of my addiction nightmare. Now I’m fighting to change the system so everyone has the opportunity to move on and find work.

I come from a good family and went to a good school. I had everything that I could have wanted as a child, until my mum died when I was 13. I started to use drugs shortly after her death, smoking cannabis and eventually starting to use class A drugs. I’m 42 now and was in active addiction for 25 years of my life – today, I’ve been clean for nearly 5 years.

 

In 2011, I got caught in a large drug conspiracy and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. 

 

On my release, I was keen to get back into work and began applying for jobs. After the 20th interview, I was sure that I was never going to be employed again. Because of the law, if an employer asked about my criminal record, I had to tell them about my conviction. Of course, I understand the need to be honest, but even though I had served my time and my crime was non-violent, it was holding me back from building a more stable life. I did manage to get some casual work, but only through friends and family.

 

I eventually started doing some volunteer work for a charity called The Forward Trust. They work with people with previous convictions and those who suffer from addiction issues, of which I have a lifetime of experience. After 9 months of volunteer work, they encouraged me to apply for a job as a housing and resettlement officer. I managed to get the job, though I still had to undergo a criminal record check. I now work every day to help people, and love every minute of it.

 

I have my own family now. My partner is my biggest supporter and we had a baby girl last year. Since going to rehab, I have also managed to repair some of the relationships I lost with family members during active addiction. Everything in my life is now about providing for my amazing family. 

 

But without a couple of people believing in me and allowing me the opportunity to work and move on, I would more than likely be back in jail and still in the midst of my addiction nightmare.

 

And unfortunately, not everyone has the same support system and opportunities that I did…

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