Posted by: Horton Housing Association24/09/2015 4:53 pm
Earlier this year we signed a pledge to ensure people with convictions were given opportunities in the workplace.
Although ‘Unlock Your Future’ is a new initiative, launched by the community interest company No Offence, Horton Housing has a long history of employing people with convictions, as both staff and volunteers.
We work closely with the Prison Service and charities such as No Offence to create a path for people leaving prison to access voluntary and employment opportunities, as well as help with housing and settling back into community life.
We recognise that employment is a significant opportunity for people to break the cycle of offending and that a lot of people with great skills and attitude are often overlooked in recruitment because of convictions.
We judge people on merit, not on past and we are more than happy to give people a chance to turn their lives around. It takes a great deal of strength and resilience to break the pattern of offending and we recognise that people who have been through this experience often have a lot to offer in the workplace.
Of course we don’t take these decisions lightly. We look closely at the offence in question and any pattern of offending, and take steps to ensure that offenders do not pose any risk to clients or service provision.
Convictions can often be a result of other issues, such as drug or alcohol misuse, and once these issues are addressed, offending is not even an issue. For example, one of our workers Eddie (not his real name) had a long history of alcohol dependency and was a prolific offender.
His convictions over 20 years ranged from drunk and disorderly charges to commercial burglary and were inextricably linked to his drinking. His offending stopped when he went into recovery and he’s never looked back.
Eddie spent a year recovering from acute alcohol dependency before moving on to voluntary work and then employment with Horton Housing.
Another of our employees is now a manager. Melanie (not her real name) was convicted of tax fraud and given a prison sentence. She joined Horton Housing as a support worker while on day release from Prison and has since been promoted. She’s put her past behind her and is a well regarded and highly trusted manager.
Everyone deserves a second chance and employers that overlook people with convictions are missing out.
By Linda McGowan, Services Director, Horton Housing
Horton Housing Association provides housing, training and support services for vulnerable people in Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and North Yorkshire