Working for Guidance Services Ltd. as a ‘Young Person’s Personal Advisor’ I worked alongside the charity SOVA (Supporting Others through Volunteer Action) in the now-demolished Education Wing, helping the lads find work as they approached the end of their sentence and providing them with advice and guidance to help them prepare for life outside the prison system. We prepared CV’s, took part in role playing exercises to help the lads practice their interview skills and negotiated with the Princes’ Trust and sympathetic employers who were prepared to employ young men between the age of 18 -25 who, for whatever reason, had been convicted of a criminal offence.
The disclosure of an offence, usually drug-related, burglary, assault or ‘twocking’ (taking a vehicle without consent), was a difficult barrier to overcome when looking for work and the lads had very little previous work experience or qualifications to demonstrate their employability. Throughout the education programme we would focus on how being open and honest about a criminal conviction and time spent ‘inside’ would improve their chances of finding work. We would also emphasise their physical strength, determination, manual dexterity and the responsibility they felt towards their young families if they had children.