Issue 15 September 2012
The free magazine for law-abiding people facing discrimination and inequality as a result of a criminal record
In this issue... 2. Editorâ€™s Welcome 3. Employee Engagement 5. Artist, Ex-con...and a Real Hero 6. Saints and Sinners 8. A New Lease of Life 10. Writing with Conviction 11. Unlock Media / Unlock Vocal
original image ÂŠ msneves on sxc.hu
Editor’s welcome Erica Crompton A new film has been released called “Offender”, said to be “an explosive youth crime thriller set in the brutal world of a young offender’s institute.” Although according to Guardian film critic David Cox it’s a “disappointingly tame film”, receiving only one star out of five. But it may be of interest to readers of theRecord for its themes. The film sets out to be authentic, with people with convictions being at the core of the scriptwriting process. Scriptwriter Paul Van Carter says:“ The experiences of reformed offenders were instrumental in making sure the screenplay was 100 per cent authentic. The key one is Cyle Carse, credited on the film as Technical Advisor, who’d been in Feltham on and off throughout his teenage years. He took me through the process: being arrested, how you’re treated by the police, going to trial, the drivers on the bus, being checked in and stripped off, being processed to your cell and how things work in the prison.” Director Ron Scalpello says: “We wanted to do a 21st–century film that was as powerfully affecting as “Scum” in the 70s. The aim was to put a magnifying glass over the prison youth systems – because they’re not working. They haven’t been working for decades. We just sweep people into
these prisons with no regard and no empathy and expect them to survive.” Scalpello marks his feature film debut from the original screenplay by Paul Van Carter, starring Joe Cole (Skins and Ol Parker’s Now Is Good) in the lead as Tommy, a young man forced to set up his own incarceration to exact revenge on the violent gang who brutally attacked his girlfriend and their unborn child. The film sets out the to be one of the first to specifically address the London riots and the issues raised. Producer Nick Taussig says: “I think the decision we made was that we wanted to be the first film about the riots. I think the issue there is that it’s being looked at in the context of the rage of the underclass.” “And yet, the riots just provided a moment of key opportunity for a crime to be committed. Where the riots are relevant is that, although the bulk of the film takes place in an institution, the majority of the young people in those institutions are of that underclass. So it’s mostly a film about youth justice. It’s looking at how these young men have been affected.” Scalpello adds: “We presume that our sense of good and bad is intrinsic. But it’s not. It’s groomed by the people around you and your environment. And if you’re planted in bad soil, you’ll grow bad.” Kimberley Nixon (Hunky Dory,
Wild Child, Angus Thongs & Perfect Snogging) co-stars, alongside Shaun Dooley (The Woman in Black, Red Riding), Ruth Gemmell (Storage 24, Fever Pitch), celebrated rapper English Frank, newcomers Tyson Oba, Daniel Kendrick (Love Bites, Ghosted), Malachi Kirby and grime artists G Frsh and Scorcher. Running in the same vein as great prison dramas such as Alan Clarke’s iconic Scum or Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, Offender’s commitment to dramatic authenticity promises to deliver an emotional and hard-hitting portrayal of one man’s quest for retribution. “Offender” will be produced with the support of the UK charity Carney’s Community and a portion of the net profits from the film will be donated to the charity. Carney’s Community works to help troubled youngsters get involved in the filmmaking process and into training and education, to keep them away from a life of crime. To watch the trailer, click here. Fancy reviewing the film or something similar for theRecord? Get in touch now at firstname.lastname@example.org – I look forward to answering your email.
Employer Engagement Christopher Stacey Unlock is working with the REACH programme, which operates in the East Midlands (covering Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire). The aim of the work that Unlock will be doing is that the REACH programme is more effective at supporting ex-offenders to obtain sustainable employment due to improved employer engagement. The outcome of the broader project, in relation to employment engagement, will hopefully be that an increased number of employers in the East Midlands have fair policies and practices towards the recruitment and retention of ex-offenders. The REACH (Regional EmployAbility CHallenge) programme is supported by the NOMS ESF programme. It delivers an intensive package of learning, training and support to people with convictions to access employment opportunities. The programme operates in both custody and community settings where case managers work closely with participants to overcome any barriers they may have that prevent them from accessing employment opportunities.
Unlock will be providing support to the Employer Engagement Team, which aims to identify and develop sustainable employment opportunities and support programme participants to access those opportunities. Unlock’s work will particularly focus on bringing the expertise that it has developed over the years in relation to criminal records and employment. This will include: • Developing a training and support package for employers covering convictions and their impact on employment, disclosure processes, restrictions, and promoting fair and effective recruitment of people with convictions • Training and advising REACH employer engagement officers, case workers and other staff on the disclosure of offences and CRB checks in relation to employment • Advising REACH participants on issues of disclosure and CRB in complex and problematic cases
• Advising employers on disclosure, CRB issues and issues related to the employment of people with convictions Do you employ people in the East Midlands? If so, we’re keen to work with you to explore the ways in which people with convictions can help your business. We also think it’s important to work collaboratively and in partnership with other organisations who are working on similar issues elsewhere, sharing best practice and supporting one another through common issues. Although the REACH project is specific to the East Midlands, we’re keen to work with those who have specialist expertise of employer engagement, particularly those who have worked with employers to develop employment opportunities for people with convictions. If you are interested in this project, then please email christopher.stacey@ unlock.org.uk or call 07557 676433.
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User Voice exists to reduce reoffending by presenting the voice of offenders and ex-offenders to decision makers in the criminal justice system. We run peer support projects; establish and support Prison, Probation, Youth and Community Councils; undertake projects which enable agencies to access and act upon the insights of offenders; and present the case for service user engagement to a wide range of key audiences.
ordination, pre-planning and evaluation of youth programmes and leading the facilitation and support work with young people directly. They particularly welcome applications from ex-offenders and from all sections of the community regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age or disability. User Voice are committed to Safe Working Practices across the organisation that promote the welfare and safeguarding of children and young people. For the full job description, person specification and application details: Amie-Rose Long at email@example.com Applicants for either post should send a CV and a statement of their suitability for the role to Anne-Marie Douglas, User Voice, 20 Newburn Street, London, SE11 5PJ or firstname.lastname@example.org. The statement should set out the applicant’s experience and suitability in relation to each point of the Person Specification.
This is a fantastic opportunity to work in an innovative and growing charity. The primary role of the Peer Support Coordinator is to manage the development and delivery of an employment peer support project. The successful candidate will have responsibility for developing and providing ongoing support to people entering work after a long period of unemployment or potentially for the first time. These people will have experience of a range of issues which could include offending, addiction, homelessness, mental health and young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs). User Voice particularly welcomes applications from ex-offenders and from all sections of the community regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age or disability. For the full job description, person specification and application details: Amie-Rose Long at email@example.com Applicants for either post should send a CV and a statement of their suitability for the role to Beth Kennedy, User Voice, 20 Newburn Street, London, SE11 5PJ or firstname.lastname@example.org. The statement should set out the applicant’s experience and suitability in relation to each point of the Person Specification.
Deadline for applications: 6th September 2012 Interview date: w/c 10th September 2012
Deadline for applications: 5pm Friday 7 September Interview date: week commencing 17 September
Youth Programmes Manager Full-Time 40 Hrs (London, South East and South West)
Following the success of the ‘What’s Your Story?’ national consultation with young offenders across England and Wales, User Voice are seeking to appoint a Full-Time (40 hours per week) Youth Programmes Manager based in London and leading on our ‘What’s Your Story’ youth programmes across London, the South East and South West. This is a fantastic opportunity to work in an innovative and growing charity. User Voice are looking for dynamic, authentic, inspiring and creative individuals to join the youth team, ideally (but not essential) a background in working with excluded young people is advantageous as is an ability to demonstrate how the post holders’ own life experience can support engagement work with young people. The post will require some desk based administrative work supporting the co-
Peer Support Co-ordinator
Artist, Ex-Con... and a Real Hero Erica Crompton A man with a criminal record who turned his back on a life of crime thanks to the power of art has seen his blooming brilliant work in the frame for the first time as part of an Olympicthemed campaign. Of reform, freelance artist Richard Queen tells theRecord: “It’s to do with all the projects I’m doing - I wouldn’t be able to pass my time and do things constructively and help others if it weren’t for all the courses and work I have on.” And now he’s created three canvas paintings of home-grown sporting stars and local sports facilities which are now under the spotlight in the Perspective Gallery at Jubilee2 in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. The local Borough Council commissioned the artwork, called “Local Hero”, to complement this year’s New-
castle in Bloom entry which focuses on the London 2012 Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to retain the small city title in Heart of England in Bloom for the sixth year. Richard took inspiration from Jubilee2’s abstract window art to create a masterpiece of reigning under 18s world swimming champion Rachael Kelly. He also produced a painting of 800m runner Emma Jackson, who is from Newcastle, and a patriotic picture of the climbing wall at Jubilee2. He held an outdoor painting session at Queen’s Gardens, Newcastle on 13 July as judges wound up their tour of gardens, parks and community projects. The 35-year-old, from Bucknall in Stoke-on-Trent, has been in and out of prison since the age of 17 and credits the therapeutic effect of art with helping him to stay out of trouble for four and a half years. He now works on community art projects with vulnerable adults and substance users. Richard said: “I’ve really enjoyed being involved in Newcastle in Bloom this year and got quite a lot out of it personally. I feel like I’ve accomplished something and it’s a way of giving something back.” Rachael, who is from Ashley, said: “It’s a bit surreal but it’s fantastic to know that people in my home town support me.” “It’s great to be associated with
Newcastle in Bloom because the floral displays really do make a big difference and pull the community together.” Cllr. Elsie Bates, Cabinet member for culture and leisure, added: “I’m delighted that Richard is involved in such an exciting campaign and would like to congratulate him on his fantastic achievement. “The Heart of England judges were very impressed with his work so hopefully it might help to give us an edge. “Community involvement is a very important part of Britain in Bloom and we’re lucky to have people jumping at the chance to be involved. We’ve also got a lot of sporting talent in the borough which is always good to celebrate.” The results of Heart of England in Bloom will be announced on 13 September. Richard tells theRecord: “I’m excited to hear about the results. I also entered last year and was pleasantly surprised. I entered a 16 foot painting called Gloom to Bloom back then – which celebrated communities coming together. I won £30 vouchers for art materials. And Gloom to Bloom is still on display in Newcastle-UnderLyme today – happy days!” To commission or order original artwork by artist Richard Queen contact email@example.com or call 07901 255 469.
“Every Saint has a Past, My father played a part in the biggest robbery, in 1963. A moving train was held up and 2 and a half million pounds was taken in cash, was on its way to be burnt, 16 robbers were caught after, and Mr Big remains free. No one was killed, they just used coshes, although driver Mills had a slight cut on his head. My father along with another robber, gave driver Mills a cup of tea, and bandaged his head but he passed away 7 years later. Many officials, and the media trumped this up, to say the driver was so badly traumatised from this that he got cancer, but my mother campaigned over the worst sentences they received of thirty years - and they missed hanging by 2 years, as it was against the state. My argument has always been, whose pockets was it going into, as it was untraceable, although it’s never been answered! Schooling for both my sister and I, of 15 months difference in age, was always a little bit traumatised. While the teacher was reading the newspapers to the class - “Train robbers escape!” - all the children would turn round and giggle and look at me.
I loved music, singing in the school choir, I played the violin, loved art, and cooking and reading. My writing was very good, in fact, prior to this happening, I got all the kids from the block of flats and decided to do a musical aged eight, both Racheal Rumbol, my sister and I raised ten shillings, towards Dr Barnados Children’s homes in 1963 (that was quite a lot of money then!) I ended up working in Selfridges as a senior sales consultant, aged 18, that was where I met my son’s dad which took away the heavy duty depression, which I use to get in whirlwinds - dark mood swings that lead me to drink, as I loved a party or dancing! At 21, I went to the States which opened my eyes to the other side of life. I always said I would go back. But life goes on. For a time I ran a pub for my mother in the 80’s, before I had a conviction. Here, I placed ads in the newspaper and later found out that most of my staff were ex-offenders. We paid well, they did not thieve off us, we gave them a good wage, much more than the minimum wage! That’s why they loved working their shifts, and always
Nicked, with a tag round my ankle, with a big notice on my door not to go out after 7pm-7am, that was then I knew I had to get myself together...
turned up, without being ill, they were reliable, they enjoyed the atmosphere. I believe this or any other Government has to push up the minimum wage to at least £12 an hour, as even professional workers are struggling with their bills. They spend so much sending people to the moon, and spend far too much on armoury for wars. Let’s get our own people employed, in homes, with proper causes, and stop the greed with corporations that are taking advantage of low paid workers, in this country. This is a first world country, not a third world country! Being out of work, trying for work at 42 years old, and not getting replies back, feeling worthless, the desperation of going to the Job Centre, even to the point of getting a Christmas job, delivering the Royal Mail. I had not had a conviction, only for a driving offence, 21 people got work that year, except me, the man said he couldn’t believe it. I leaned over and said “You don’t think it’s because my father robbed the train in 1963, do you?” He said “No, you have a clean CRB.” Or was it age discrimination? Looking back, I could have taken them to court, see studying law was not my forte. Eventually my drinking turned into drug taking, and I got in a relationship that was violent, a down hill battle. I can truly say drink and drugs do take away the time, and pain of issues, that you have to face. More drinking led to my bills not get-
Every Sinner a Future” – Oscar Wilde
ting paid, wrong judgement on friends, until, a relationship you thought was okay, turned into a controlling, abusive relationship, with me being cut on my left ear. I never had him charged, and eventually, I managed to leave. But still not in my right head, got involved with some drug dealers, who I owed money to. To pay them back, I decided to take a chance, with fraud, to get my ticket away from being jobless, it never happened, it was my cry for help. Nicked, with a tag round my ankle, with a big notice on my door not to go out after 7pm-7am, that was then I knew I had to get myself together... My mum was not well at all and I was a part-time addict, but was not a red faced old lady with a can in her hand. A decent lunch, tea and coffees proved very helpful. How on earth does any government expect a jobless person, prison leaver, homeless person or a human being on a very low income, to get back their lives and pay bills, (that’s if their lucky enough to have a roof over their heads)? But I did have the help of a good probation officer. I did ask questions and showed her I was willing to learn, whilst under her wing, which looking back, I still believe, is not for everyone. The support should start from the Job Centre and Social Security, for those people that are heading the benders of drink and drug issues.
I engaged in support groups, with “Women in Prison” and did a screen writing course, which was very basic but good. I got nothing from a Probation service organization. Then there was a place in Great Portland Street where the staff were excellent, but I could tell, it was a window dressing course (cheap and cheerful). This is where they all fall down, instead of giving the people the right further education, in progressing forward, most of the courses are just plain, uncredited courses. However I then went to another place for drama, which was a bit better. What really did help me was a charity that did help ex-offenders with some small investment. They gave me a small notebook for my writing, Malcolm the advisor understood my plight, my age, and issues and knew I had written a book. They asked me what I wanted, I said I want to help others, that I have creative brains, and am interested in singing. At the time, I was so upset about a girl contestant called Rachel, who entered the X-Factor, and the media leaked it out that she had been a exoffender. This was a disgrace! I don’t have to explain, because I know most of you will agree with me, that, society does have to change its attitudes. We are not going to change 60% of exoffenders, but the 40% who are willing should really have that extra support,
within the arts, I mean not just using paint and a paint brush, but music technology - proper courses. So now I’ve just recorded a song called “Gone on ahead” wrote by an old friend called Billy Brindle, a mature man who grew up without a father. He could not read or write, yet has wrote many good songs. He found a young blind girl, Hayley aged 14 years, and she ended up on Children In Need on BBC plus then went to the States for the Country and Western, over in Nashville. As I researched his talent of songs, it came to me that with my other plan, in mind for January next year, I have found a new venture. My plan is for a talent show and I’m willing to take on voluntary workers, or entries and would be available to advise the route to go down on the straight and narrow. My song has only been up a few weeks and it has 200 hits, so far, on Youtube.com. I have been invited to sing for the Amy Winehouse foundation over in Belgium which I’m looking forward to. It’s a fashion show... So things are finally looking up! You can buy Marilyn’s book, Gangster’s Moll on Amazon, here or to volunteer to work with Marilyn on one of her projects email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out Maryilyn’s song on Youtube, here.
A New Lease of Life David Honeywell 8
Photography courtesy of Discovery Photography
MY recent book signing event at York’s Waterstones, where I was signing copies of my new autobiography, Never Ending Circles, gave me some time to reflect. Writing your life story really does bring about psychological and emotional changes inside you but little did I expect the life changes that would follow after becoming a ‘respected author’. Being respected in York is something I never expected to be because almost 30 years ago I walked into a store just on the outskirts of the City and held it up wielding a 7-inch dagger. Then 27 years later, I was made a Freeman of the City through birthright and now I am being greeted by the Lord Mayor for my work.
York has deeply routed ancestry for me on my mother’s side of the family dating back centuries where 24 members were Freeman. And I feel I now owe it to their memory, victims of crime, myself and my own family to try and put right my wrongdoings. I started doing this by writing my memoirs in the hope to inspire others that lives can be turned around. Delving into my innermost has forced me to change my life - so much that I have moved back to the City where my criminal life began all those years ago. It’s as though I have been catapulted back in time but now I am a much wiser person. As I continued to write my memoirs, things inside me started to change. I developed a burning
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desire to revisit old haunts and track down old friends I had lost contact with over 20 years ago then to go back and start all over again. It has made me see where things had gone wrong - not just by thinking back - but by standing in the actual places I used to frequent and soaking in the ambience mixed with sadness and relief that they are now distant memories. I now have a new lease of life and passion for revisiting the past to put things right. York is where it all began and as I plan for tomorrow I feel so humbled that the Lord Mayor is coming along especially to see me in all his regalia. This I hope will be the start of us working together within communities. Before it all starts though I will be in BBC Radio York talking about the contents of the book. Radio and TV have been a great source of publicity ranging from commentating on recent news headlines to discussing where
I’m coming from with my book. The book signings have been a great way of networking and being able to cut my teeth in the publishing world. I have to say though I am pleasantly surprised by the level of interest from local people who just want to read about real life which is very encouraging. I think a lot of people have a story to tell and publishing their book could a lot easier than they think. This is why I have now set up my own publishing house name, Nocton Publishing, with a view to publishing inspirational stories. I think there should always be a theme. Mine was to show that I could relate to every aspect of life from alcohol abuse, depression, incarceration to relationship problems and employment issues. It worked because I have as many people asking for my book who have experienced mental health issues and depression as I have from ex-cons and universities.
It has been the most humbling experience personally, but the most rewarding thing for me will be the lives it helps to change. Even if it’s just making someone who is suffering realise they are not alone, to showing that with determination, you can turn your life around. You can buy David’s book ‘Never Ending Circles’, here.
Writing with Conviction David Honeywell Prisoners are generally alienated by society - understandably by those who have been victims of crime - but mostly by those who sit in judgement without the slightest inclination of what a prison is actually like. Everyone breaks the law at sometime in their lives albeit perhaps regarded as not serious. For example, stealing from the workplace was never seen as criminal once but merely a perk of the job. Nevertheless, no-one has the right to judge, because you never know when you might just find yourself fighting for your freedom – sometimes by being wrongly accused or as a result of your own ignorance. Prison doesn’t have a particular
type of person, it has all kinds of people from all walks of life and if you look at women’s prisons, a large majority don’t even need to be locked away. So while we already have this bigoted view surrounding prisoners and prisons, to then start replacing Britain’s law abiding workforce with prisoners, is purely irresponsible, immoral and arrogant. The recent report about prisoners being brought into replace Becoming Green’s loyal workers has to be the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard in years. After establishing an arrangement with minimum-security HMP Prescoed late last year, roofing and environmental refitting company Becoming Green, has taken on 23 prisoners. Currently, 12 are being paid 6% of the minimum wage. Read more about this, here.
The best thing prisons can do is have prisoners working and contributing towards the economy but when they are being paid less than the legal wage, it makes you wonder who the real criminals are here. And then to sack your workforce to replace them with prisoners can only create even more animosity towards prisoners. I have to echo what Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA prison officers’ union, said - that for any company to rely on cheap labour of prisoners was “immoral and disgusting”. In the 17th to 19th century, the penal system required convicts to work on government projects such as road construction, building works and mining, or be assigned to free individuals as unpaid labour, so have are we now full circle? Or have we never really moved on from those days?
UNLOCK Media A round-up of relevant news and views in the media this month
The Guardian Second police commissioner candidate withdraws over juvenile conviction Click here BBC Radio 4 Duane Jackson: From prison to a successful business Click here
The Guardian Served your time in prison and looking for a job? You’re out of luck Click here
Channel 4 More trouble over PCC criminal record rules Click here
MailOnline The golden boy who seized his second chance: Triumph of boxer spared jail for drug-dealing Click here
The Guardian Prisoners paid £3 a day to work at call centre that has fired other staff Click here
The Guardian For young people a criminal record should not be for life. Click here
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Should reformed offenders be given a second chance? Click here
UNLOCK Vocal Your news and views at forum.unlock.org.uk
Unlock Forums > General Information > Welcome Forum > Hello. - New member Mirrorman says ‘Hello’ and receives a warm welcome from members. Pop in and say hi too! Click here Unlock Forum > Public Forums > Employment > CRB question Spindrift poses a question about his CRB and forum members endeavour to help out, can you help too? Click here Unlock Forums > Public Forums > Education & Training > Having a conviction whilst in University EDDIE and members discuss having a conviction while at university. If you have experience of this, join in the discussion. Click here
Unlock Forums > Public Forums > Finance (e.g. insurance, banking, mortgages etc) > Motor Insurance... do they know?! New member Mirrorman has questions about car insurance including ‘Could I be brought up on driving with no insurance?’ Know about this? Join in here
Unlock Forums > Public Forums > Support, encouragement and success stories > You are not alone – Members rally together to help cheer up new member Tom Returns. Can you offer a shoulder of support? Post your message for Tom Returns. Click here
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