When Jo came to Café 16, the Oswin Projects prisoner staffed café in HMP Northumberland, he was quiet and lacked confidence but worked extremely hard and showed great commitment. When his release was imminent, there did not appear to be a clear way forward for him. The Oswin Project prides itself on always finding the right employment for every individual.
When asked what his dream job would be Jo replied ‘to work in a racing stables’. We organised this and he has never looked back. A number of stable staff have been furloughed but not Jo, he is considered integral to the operation. He has gradually been given more responsibility. With his job comes accommodation and security. When this picture was sent, we thanked the racing stables for their willingness to employ an Oswinner and for their care and encouragement. The reply came ‘Thank you, for you and your team for recommending him (big star)’.
Jo’s story is a fantastic example of how, with the right support, mentoring and opportunities, ex-offenders can go on to be passionate, hardworking employees; improving their own lives while contributing to their workplace and community.
‘… I wanted to let you and everyone at Oswin know just how grateful I am, I have to remind myself at times just how lucky I am to have this support and it’s not something I am used to. I enjoy my job and like the people I work with, I have people around me who I can trust. No words can emphasise the positive difference and change the project provides everyone. Thanks for giving me the opportunity’Pat
Pat joined our team at Café 16 in the Cathedral in October 2021. Despite a long daily commute, he says ‘having a routine, a reason to get up in the morning, it is hard to put into words; the difference it has made’.
Initially, Pat had to work hard on time management and personal organisation. With support from a volunteer to help navigate the complications of bank accounts and living in a rental property, and regular work in Café 16 in the Cathedral, Pat’s confidence has continued to grow. Pat has begun using his experience to advocate for ex-offenders, and better inform others about the challenges they face. Pat spoke passionately at the Oswin Project conference and participated in an upcoming documentary by User Voice. He recognises that his frank accounts of the realities of prison and substance addiction can be shocking but says “it’s important because it helps to make an impact”. Reflecting on the twenty-three-hour lockdown conditions many prisoners faced during the COVID crisis Pats says:
“There is a fine line between punishment and neglect. Prisons should realise that the COVID 19 regime can’t be seen as the norm, they must see people as individuals and offer rehabilitation accordingly with incentives and support.”Pat
The Oswin Project would like to congratulate Pat on all he has achieved. He continues to work hard, not only in changing his own life; but also, to create positive change for others.