May 30, 2017

Jasmine's journey to the Houses of Parliament

Video by The Exceptionals: an online resource to inspire and inform employers to hire people with convictions. Film directed by Roann Ghosh, Greener Productions. Graphics by Gw+Co. www.theexceptionals.org | @exceptionals_uk

(Jasmine appears in this video under a previously used pseudonym of Jenny Martín.)


Confident and career-driven, Jasmine loves her job working in the House of Commons for an MP. But getting to this point has been a hard battle. Jasmine left school with few qualifications and fell in with the wrong crowd: just after turning 18 she was sent to prison for four years for drug trafficking. 

The shock of prison was immense. Her sentence could easily have been the start of a long spiral downwards, but Jasmine says: “I wanted to re-create my future – I was determined to fit back into society.” After two years in a Spanish prison she was placed on a resettlement wing at HMP Downview, where she saw a sign about a Working Chance workshop. “It seemed like a step in the right direction so I decided it was worth going to,” she recalls. “It was really good to have that support and they gave me the skills to get my first job after release.”

Working Chance introduced Jasmine to the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, a nine-month work experience scheme aiming to open up careers in Parliament.

Released on temporary license, Jasmine began working for a charity: the experience helped her build skills and confidence, and she was thrilled to be offered a full-time position just before her release. Two years later when her job finished and she became unemployed, she turned again to Working Chance.

“Working Chance helped me most when I was struggling with anxiety and depression,” she remembers. “I went to other recruitment agencies but felt unable to disclose my conviction because organisations and recruitment agencies discriminated against me. Working Chance gave me the boost I needed.”

Working Chance is so much more than a recruitment company: it reassures candidates that they have spoken to the employer so they already know you have a conviction, which means you know you won’t immediately be turned away.

Working Chance introduced Jasmine to the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, a nine-month work experience scheme aiming to open up careers in Parliament.

Jasmine has now worked for two MPs carrying out policy research, dealing with constituency enquiries, writing press releases and working on campaigns.  Her experience has made her determined to become a member of Parliament herself.

It’s funny how quickly things can turn around in life. Something truly destroying has happened at some point to women who have been in prison and they need their confidence building again.

It’s funny how quickly things can turn around in life,” she now says. “Something truly destroying has happened at some point to women who have been in prison and they need their confidence building again. Working Chance is so much more than a recruitment company: it reassures candidates that they have spoken to the employer so they already know you have a conviction, which means you know you won’t immediately be turned away.

“If you want something, push for it until you get it. It can be a hard road to travel, but there is a way out, if you’re determined enough.”