Case study – Larry – With little support from the jobcentre or probation after leaving prison, finding employment was extremely difficult

Larry contacted our helpline for some advice about finding a job with an unspent conviction.

Larry stated that he’d recently been released from prison after serving two and a half years of a five year sentence for robbery. He was desperate to find a job so that he could afford to rent somewhere to live and keep himself out of trouble. His probation officer had told him that she couldn’t help him find a job but had referred him to a CV writing course. Larry told us that as soon as he’d mentioned his conviction to the jobcentre advisor she had lost interest in him, telling him that it would be incredibly difficult to get a job with his criminal record.

Larry also mentioned that he was very anxious about disclosing his conviction to an employer. He was extremely embarrassed and found it hard to explain what happened without making it sound as though he were making excuses.

We explained to Larry that as he’d received a five year sentence, his conviction would never be spent and he’d always need to disclose it. We tried to reassure him that although it can be more difficult to find a job with an unspent conviction, it is definitely not impossible.

We suggested that as a starting point, Larry have a look at the list of friendly employers on our website. These were employers who had a more positive attitude towards people with a criminal record. We also recommended that to overcome the problem he had around disclosure, he look at our self-disclosure template examples and use these to put together his own disclosure. He could then choose whether to use it as a prompt to help him disclose face-to-face or to hand it over to the employer if they wanted something in writing.

Larry contacted us a couple of weeks later to let us know that following his call to the helpline he’d signed on with an employment agency. The agency hadn’t asked about his conviction and had put him forward for an interview. Larry had prepared a disclosure statement which he’d handed over to the employer at the end of the interview. The employer asked Larry more questions about the offence but told him that they didn’t consider him to be a risk to their business. They offered Larry the job there and then.

Larry said:

I felt a lot more motivated and positive after speaking to Unlock and realised it wasn’t going to be impossible to get a job. Writing the self-disclosure made it much easier for me to explain my criminal record and I can’t understand why probation or the jobcentre hadn’t suggested this before.

 

Lessons

This case demonstrates the lack of support there can be for people leaving prison who are looking to get back into work. The caseload of probation officers means they often struggle to do more than supervise those individuals on licence whilst jobcentre advisors can lack understanding when dealing with somebody with a criminal record.

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Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

 

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