When Jo came to Café 16, the Oswin Projects prisoner staffed café in HMP Northumberland, he was quiet and lacked confidence but worked extremely hard and showed great commitment. When his release was imminent, there did not appear to be a clear way forward for him. The Oswin Project prides itself on always finding the right employment for every individual. When asked what his dream job would be Jo replied ‘to work in a racing stables’. We organised this and he has never looked back. A number of stable staff have been furloughed but not Jo, he is considered integral to the operation. He has gradually been given more responsibility. With his job comes accommodation and security. When this picture was sent, we thanked the racing stables for their willingness to employ an Oswinner and for their care and encouragement. The reply came ‘Thank you, for you and your team for recommending him (big star)’.
Jo’s story is a fantastic example of how, with the right support, mentoring and opportunities, ex-offenders can go on to be passionate, hardworking employees; improving their own lives while contributing to their workplace and community.
The incredibly daunting journey through the criminal justice system, prison-time, release and the ongoing work with probation provided me with opportunities and many challenges. The Oswin Project helped me to see a constructive future whilst offering me the immediate support and belief that enabled me to see value and worth in myself. The faith and insight they provide has given me the confidence to re-engage with the community, family and friends, engage with services such as counselling, draw upon existing talents and develop new skills. With their direct and continual support, I have supported a profitable gardening, landscaping and decorating service, liaising directly with clients, producing quotes, negotiating with suppliers and carrying out work to a consistently high standard. This experience has provided me with the resilience to face challenges whilst maintaining a clear view ahead. I have been able to draw value from these experiences and help other ex-offenders build confidence in a bright and constructive future.