Blog, Case study | 19 July 2023

Changing my journey: Laura's story

Laura took her future into her own hands and changed the course of her life by building a career in the criminal justice sector.

She started her studies while still in prison and is now working at New Connections, supporting people leaving prison. Her story shows that there is always potential for growth and to turn your life around after a mistake.

“Whenever I doubt myself, I think ‘No, you’re actually fine!’ and I always have to thank my Employment Advisor for that, she’s really helped me to recognise when I’m doubting myself.”

Former Working Chance client

Before her conviction Laura was like lots of other teenagers. Working but not quite sure what she wanted to do with her life in the longer term.

“I was 18 when I got my conviction, my main job was at a nursery and I was studying childcare. But the other jobs I had were in hospitality, not really doing anything long-term.”

“I was going down a path where I was just working and focusing on making money, and not really building a career. I had no goals or aspirations, whereas now it’s completely different."

Former Working Chance client

Laura's life was upended by one life-changing mistake. She found herself facing a prison sentence and receiving a conviction that would never become spent (meaning she’d have to disclose it to employers for the rest of her life). It was while she was in prison that her interest in criminology started to develop.

“While I was in prison I started going to the gym and studying for a degree in psychology and criminology with the Open University. Doing those things really helped me to focus and think more about my future.”

“I had to grow up a lot in prison, you’re surrounded by people who are a lot older than you so your mentality changes. It matured me so much, emotionally I was able to shut everything away and just work through it which helped me to grow up.”

“Someone told me about Working Chance when I was in prison. After I finished my undergraduate degree, I got in touch. But things were slow because of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. I put job searching on hold and started a master’s degree in criminology.”

“When I finished my masters, I got back in touch with Working Chance. I wanted to go for a proper career that I’d studied for. I thought that’s where Working Chance can really help.”

Former Working Chance client

“The careers coaching really helped me to discover what area of the justice system I wanted to work in.”

“I found out that I'm a bit of a nerd, I really like research, and I like being face-to-face with people- but not all the time. With this position I have that!”

“Working Chance introduced me to New Connections. I started volunteering part-time with them and interviewing for other roles. I had some interviews for other jobs that didn’t go so well but looking back, I’m really pleased with how it worked out.”

“If I had taken another job, I wouldn’t have found the job I’m in now at New Connections.”

Although Laura's career is going from strength to strength, she’ll have to live with the consequences of her conviction forever. Last year, Laura and her partner weren't able to rent the flat they wanted because she was legally required to disclose her conviction - the landlords decided to give the flat to someone else.

“Having an unspent conviction feels like a stain on my name. It’s something I can never take back. I deserve to have a conviction that doesn’t become spent, but it does make things a lot more challenging.”

Former Working Chance client

Despite these challenges, Laura is determined to continue her studies and support others who have been through the justice system.

“I really hope to progress further in my position at New Connections and I really want to do a PhD. I’ll be leaving my hospitality job and starting full-time here soon. Once I’ve found my feet with this job hopefully I can start a PhD in the area I’m working in. So that’s my goal for next year. Hopefully!”

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