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Don’t be bitter, just be better

Although the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Indeterminate Prison Sentences (IPP’s) breached an individual’s human rights, many men and women remain in prison with no idea of when they’ll be able to leave. Max served over 12 years in prison after being given a two

“Acceptance was the answer to my problems” – Getting into university with an unspent conviction

Despite education being widely recognised as a key factor in successful rehabilitation, having to disclose a conviction will often mean that people with convictions are discouraged from applying. But, refusal from one university didn’t stop Henry from following his dream to study for a Masters. I’m so

“Don’t believe everything you read” – Getting a visa from the US Embassy in Belfast is no guarantee

Having done a huge amount of research, Will was reasonably optimistic that travelling to the US Embassy in Belfast would improve his chances of getting a visa. Last year I visited the US Embassy in Belfast to apply for a US holiday visa. Because of the work

Need some support in these testing times? Why not join Unlock’s online forum?

As a way of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has been challenged to undertake self-isolation and social distancing. Although we all appreciate why it’s so important to reduce the spread of the infection, for many this will be a particularly stressful and isolating time. Humans are

I thought “offenders” were different to me until my friend received a criminal record

Annie found it hard to empathise with anybody that had a criminal record until her friend received a conviction and went to prison. I’ve been running my own hairdressing business for approximately 25 years now and, I’m happy to say that it’s very successful. I’m based in

Should my past forever define who I am?

Sadly, AJ’s story is not an unusual one. As a young man, he made some bad choices which saw him sent to prison. Yet despite spending the last 9 years trying to make amends, it seems as though he’ll never be allowed to leave the past behind.

I’ve been fortunate that my stupidity hasn’t been held against me

On paper Keith’s conviction for arson sounds terrible but, the key to his success has been his ability to disclose it openly and honestly to any college/university or employer that asks. I left home at the age of 16 and for the next two years stayed with

My life has been enriched since challenging my SOPO

A series of terrible incidents relating to his criminal record led Gerry to apply to have his SOPO revoked with a very positive outcome. Back in 2009 I was convicted of a downloading offence which resulted in a community sentence and an indefinite SOPO. In the years

If employers aren’t willing to give people with convictions a second chance how can we ever prove that we’ve changed

Josh readily accepts that having been convicted of a serious offence he deserved to be punished. However, having worked hard to deal with the issues that led to his offending, Josh is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he’s going to be punished for

A journey from entering the Koestler Awards to studying at the Royal Drawing School

This post originally appeared on the Koestler Arts website and is reproduced with permission and thanks. I found my creative side about 12 years ago whilst I was serving a six-year sentence in a young offender institution. I was locked up for 23 hours a day, in

Help us plan our future work

As a small charity rooted in the experiences of people with a criminal record, it’s really important that our work is shaped by the needs of the people that we exist to help. We are developing our plans for Unlock’s work in the next few years. We

I had to face the consequences of breaking the law, why shouldn’t local councils?

Having discovered that his local council were acting unlawfully by requesting a copy of his subject access request from the police, Mikey wasn’t content with a simple ‘sorry’ from them. Last year I reapplied to go on the councils housing list as in 2017 I’d been refused