From a life of crime to steady work: Colin's story

How Colin broke the cycle of reoffending 

Colin was in and out of prison for 20 years since the age of 13. Although he had gained skills as a forklift driver in prison, his criminal record meant he found it difficult to get back into work when he was released. 

“All the jobs I’ve had were from third parties, as soon as you tick that box – discriminated. They’re not interested,” Colin said.

After leaving prison he was struggling to find work whilst trying to support his young daughter and partner. A charity called Men After Prison told him that he could get a job that required no background checks. He was introduced to Lifescape, a grounds maintence company based in Preston that works for councils and businesses across the North West. They helped Colin to get back on his feet and he now works for them as an operator. 

“The lads down here though, I couldn’t have met a better set of lads. Interested in my work, not my past,” Colin said. “I’d be quite happy to stay here for the rest of my life, I’m even learning to drive.”

For Warren Kozera, a partner at Barkers Commercial Consultancy which set up Lifescape, employing people with criminal convictions who needed a chance was not only the ethical thing to do. It was a business opportunity.  

“The guys here really apply themselves here - they’ll turn up at 6:30am, whatever the work and whatever the weather, they are dedicated to work”. He believes that with integrity, being transparent, and believing in people, they can make a sustainable, profit-making business that is run by ex-offenders, and the disadvantaged people that are ignored by mainstream employers. 

Lifescape offers its employees the chance to take driving lessons, to study Agriculture at Myerscough College, and to take part in training sessions to further develop. Recruits gain key skills to become managers, operators, supervisors, and trainers and creating a connection so that they feel part of something. 

Meanwhile, parent company Barkers is practicing what it preaches for its consultants and staff too. They became the 100th company to sign up to Ban the Box in August 2018 and have since won the CIPS Supply Management Awards for best contribution to the reputation of the profession. 

Warren said: “At Barkers we’ve never had the box, we treat all potential employees as we’d like them to treat us and that starts with integrity. In our experience by demonstrating trust in all existing and potential employees, loyalty and commitment very quickly follow.”