Case study: Chris and Carillion

In February 2011, Chris spent two weeks working with Carillion on site at the Library of Birmingham. In Chris’s words, he had “wasted enough of [his] life”. Having just spent two years in prison prior to this, the placement with Carillion was a turning point for him.

I was buzzing when I found out I’d got the job. If it weren’t for this I wouldn’t have had a chance.

- Chris
Chris had been brought up in care from the age of two. His father, who he sees occasionally, suffers from alcoholism and he has never met his mother. Without the care and structure of a family, Mark got in trouble from a young age and was in and out of prison as a teenager for shoplifting and street robbery.

Aged 36, following a difficult period in his relationship with his father, Chris’s life went further off track when he turned to drugs, including heroin and crack. Supporting his drug habit led him to more serious offending and it wasn’t until a two year spell in prison, ending in August 2010 that he got clean.

Following his release from prison, his support worker referred him to Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme in Birmingham. Chris was looking to make a fresh start and really wanted to work again. But he needed support to access employment.

During the two days of pre-placement training, which all Ready for Work participants attend, it became clear that Chris needed a job that was physical and active. He had enjoyed previous work as a furnace operator because it was hard work: he was never sat down and always busy. The natural choice was for the Ready for Work team to arrange a placement for him on site with Carillion.

On the first day, he says that he was “nervous and apprehensive, having not worked for so long”. But with the support of his trained Carillion buddy on site, he managed to get into a routine. His determination to make the most of the opportunity showed through with those who worked with him. After the placement finished, Chris had impressed his supervisors so much that he was recommended for a post with a waste management contractor on the site. He got the job.

 After taking part in Ready for Work and gaining employment, Chris has distanced himself from his old friends in a bid to start a new life. Chris is still working with the same contractor now. He has rebuilt his relationship with his ex-partner and in January 2012, their daughter was born.