Seetec Pluss hosted an ‘Unlock Potential’ event in Plymouth last week, providing an opportunity for employers to hear about the benefits of employing people with convictions, and breaking the stigma associated with hiring them.

According to the Ministry of Justice, a third of organisations say they are unable to address skills shortages, so employers are being encouraged to explore the benefits of hiring people with convictions. Many prisons teach a variety of industry level skills and professional qualifications which could be of value to employers struggling with recruitment.

Ex-offenders are often willing to work hard and are committed to turning their lives around. Having a job can provide a fresh start and serve as a catalyst for change.

Leap of faith

The event was attended by the mayor and also involved an open jobs fair, where around 250 participants had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of local employers and discuss job opportunities.

Lady Sue Dann, the Mayor of Plymouth, expressed her gratitude to employers who take a “leap of faith” in hiring people with convictions, emphasising the positive impact it has on their lives.

“When we say ‘changing lives, creating futures’, that’s exactly what we’re all a part of. When we’re in that position where we can genuinely put a handout to somebody else to help themselves, that’s what
it’s about.”

Second chance

One event attendee, who had previously struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, shared his story and how he was given a second chance through employment opportunities.

He spoke about how he lacked confidence and struggled with his mental health, but now he visits local prisons and hospitals to spread the message of recovery. He attributes his success to his employment advisor, Amy, at Seetec Pluss, who has helped him find work.

”I had a difficult past involving drug and alcohol abuse and never got an education as I left school at 10 years old. I moved to Plymouth in 2014 to seek help and went to a treatment centre, and I’m now nearly 9 years into recovery.

“Now, I work with young people in Plymouth trying to improve their lives and not go down the same road I went, and today I’m visiting a psychiatric hospital carrying a message of recovery to the patients in the hospital. I also visit three local prisons in Devon, taking recovery meetings and hopefully helping these men get out of prison and not reoffend again.

“Last month was my first wage packet in over 20 years, thanks to my Employment Adviser.”

“I’ve started working with a local charity in Plymouth and I work in the Magistrates’ Courts, offering community advice and support. Now I’m at the Magistrates Courts helping other people and it’s the best feeling in the world, as I’m giving back instead of taking.”

Drew Smith, Operations Director, at Seetec Pluss said:

“Jobs fairs such as this one are important for promoting equal opportunities for all and breaking down the stigma associated with employing people with convictions. We hope that this event has helped to change attitudes and create more opportunities for those who may have been overlooked in the past, as well as increasing the pool of talent for local employers.”

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