Case Study

The prison conversation that set me on the road to a new life

14 May 2024

It was a conversation with a fellow prisoner that Scott pinpoints as a key moment when he realised he had to turn his back on a life of crime.

Scott had already served a total of two years for offences including armed robbery and possession of imitation firearms when he was just 14, and five years later he was sentenced to 12 years for GBH.

It was at HMP Parc that he got talking to an elderly prisoner and recalls: “Something just clicked. I thought I didn’t want to be at that age with no friends, no family, no future, nothing."

“A prison officer who was with me at the time said: ‘Scott, there’s got to be more to life than this’.”
It set him on a long road that now sees him doing vital work as an Accommodation Advisor for Ingeus’s Justice division in Manchester, supporting others who have been through the criminal justice system.

The prison officer suggested Scott’s passion for sport and fitness might be something he could build on to restart his life.

He took sports courses while in prison and on release six months early immediately went to work to support his young daughter.

He says: “I was cleaning toilets in a nightclub because I thought if you can do it for £7 a week in prison, I’m quite happy to do it for £200 a week to put food on my kid’s table.

“Having a daughter was the thing that kept me on the straight and narrow.”

He became a professional Thai boxer and ultra-marathon runner but it eventually took its toll on his body so he looked for something else.

After a spell working for Liverpool charity Inside Connections, which supports current and former prisoners, he moved into the recruitment sector before spotting a job with Ingeus, working on the JETS programme designed to offer fast, targeted support to people recently unemployed.

From there he moved to the Restart Scheme helping long-term jobseekers find new careers but his heart was
set on joining the company’s Justice division: “I wanted to help people to stop doing what I had done.”

A community-based post with the Accommodation Services team became available, working from a busy Probation Service office in Manchester helping former offenders struggling to find homes.

“A lot of people think then can go to the city council and will be found accommodation, but that rarely happens.

“We support them to overcome the barriers that are holding them back, including those who are already homeless.

“That might mean helping with their mental and physical wellbeing, finances, getting an official ID or clearing immigration difficulties. We work alongside specialist welfare charities and local authority organisations such as Mayor Andy Burnham’s Manchester Homelessness Partnership.”

One day a week he is based at a drop-in centre for homeless people and one night a week he volunteers at a shelter for street sleepers. 

Forty-three-year-old Scott, married for 10 years with a nine-year-old son in addition to his now 16-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, says completely shaking off his past is a work in progress.

“Like being an alcoholic you are always going to be an ex-offender for the rest of your life. However, I use my crime background to help others. I’ve been through it and come out the other side.

“I can relate to them, I understand the issues they have and their frustrations, I know why they act the way they do. If they are kicking off that doesn’t faze me.

“I chose to work for Ingeus because of the support it gives me and the fact it places a high value on lived experience. My background has never been an issue, managers are committed to ensuring a good work-life balance and they offer plenty of scope to progress."

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