I’ve been reading stories on theRecord for a while now and, following my own experiences recently, I’ve felt compelled to write something in the hope that even if I can encourage just one person, then it’s been worthwhile.
Five years ago I can vividly recall myself saying to a friend ‘If you break the law, have no respect for authority or people then you deserve what you get’ – how wrong I was.
At the age of 48, I’d never been in trouble with the Police. My life was good – I had a job I loved, I had my own house, close family etc. Little did I know that in 2012 all that was going to change …….
My mother had been pretty poorly for a while and in June 2012, she lost her battle against cancer. She was my rock, my world and there wasn’t a single thing I wouldn’t have done for her but now she was gone. Loneliness doesn’t even come close to describing the emptiness that I felt – that I still feel. I had no purpose, no direction and no reason to carry on. I became isolated, just going to work and home again at the end of the day – day in, day out. Like a ‘zombie’. I wanted it to end. I didn’t want this life any more.
It was in 2015 that I received a Community Order, almost three years after my mum had passed away. What it was for, it doesn’t matter. It was a conviction, that’s all that’s important. In a strange way though it shocked me into realising that I couldn’t carry on as I had been.
I know that people have different views about their arrest, the police etc. and these are no doubt based around their own experiences. I found that the police treated me with respect, my barrister and the judge gave me a chance and even my Probation Officer believed in me – even though I still find that hard to do.
I left my job shortly after being arrested and at the age of 51, I’d assumed that my age would probably be a barrier to finding work. Well, welcome to the world of a criminal record. The world in which nobody wants to know you. I’d done wrong, and I was truly, truly sorry but employers weren’t interested in any of that.
Every single night for about 16 weeks I applied for approximately 3 jobs. Oh I got phone calls offering me work but as soon as I mentioned my conviction, the job offer was revoked – a big fat NO. Some days it was really hard to keep going but my Probation Officer encouraged me to keep trying even though I really couldn’t see the point. But, she was right.
I’m now in my third month of being back in full time employment. I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s some purpose to my life now. I’ve got a reason to get up in the morning. My message to anybody reading this would be:-
‘No matter what happens, believe in yourself. Things will be hard for sure. Changes are going to happen but don’t fear them, embrace them. As I saw on a poster recently – Life is not about finding yourself but about reinventing yourself – and that’s what I intend doing’.
By Jeff (name changed to protect identity)
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