Simon served 20 years in prison. On his release Simon lacked confidence, he had low self-esteem and found it difficult to trust others. He was worried about how he would find a job with a criminal record, life on the outside was going to be difficult. Simon was referred to Yellow Ribbon, and became a tenant in one of the properties. After his initial assessment it was agreed that Simon should be supported through the Building Better Opportunities project as this would provide him with a focus and reason to ‘get out of the house’. It was recognised that through BBO he would be able to develop his self-esteem and confidence and build his social skills to help him demonstrate the attitudes and values sought by employers. Simon had limited work experience before entering prison. He had worked as an assembly operator on a production line and had gained GCSE qualifications along with a City and Guild Certificate in Electronics.
Simon took take part in employability workshops twice a week where he shared lunch with other participants and got to interact with others. The workshops had been specifically designed to alternate between soft skills and practical work skills development. The soft skills workshops addressed issues such as self-esteem, listening skills, speaking workshops, managing emotions, interview techniques, CV writing, body language and budgeting. Whilst the Practical skills workshops provided opportunities to learn about industry policies like health and safety, fitting plasterboard, painting and decorating, plumbing and electrics. Simon engaged with these activities building his confidence as he learnt new skills but he was also building trust with other participants, sharing in discussions and working as part of a team. Simon enjoyed the practical skills which led him to explore upholstery as a potential career path. He encountered difficulties but persevered, even managing to sell a few pieces of furniture.
Simon was successful in being offered a job with a local upholstery firm however Covid impacted the company and, due to a downturn in business, they could not honour the employment offer. Although disheartened Simon continued to attended the community upholstery course to develop his skills further. Recently, Simon was able to discuss his situation with Steve Wyatt an ex-offender and associate of Jay Blades from the BBC series ‘The Repair Shop’ and founder of Jay & Co. Simon remains hopeful that this may open up further opportunities for him.