“I’ve never had experience of the justice system before so going to prison was terrifying, especially at my age but I’ve had a lot help particularly when I was so depressed”

“I’ve never had experience of the justice system before so going to prison was terrifying, especially at my age but I’ve had a lot help particularly when I was so depressed” image

Susan Jackson, from Leeds, was convicted of theft while working as a carer and was sentenced to three years in prison, first in HMP New Hall and then Askham Grange open prison.

“I got out after 18 months and was put on detention curfew,” says Sue. While in prison Sue was put in touch with Novus which delivers education, training and employment opportunities to people in prison.

Supported by the team at West Yorkshire CRC and her case manager, Martin Conway, Sue re-entered education and began working part time while in custody at the Holy Trinity Church Café. Through Novus Sue was put in touch with the Bayford Foundation and its manager Nick Elletson.

The Right Fuelcard Company (TRFC), which runs the Bayford Foundation, prides itself on its reputation for working with individuals who have been unemployed for long periods to support and bring them back into a working life with some moving on to sales roles within TRFC. Nick says: “The Right Fuelcard Company (TRFC), is a great employer that gives local people – who others have turned down – a chance to succeed.”

Sue says: “My experience of the probation service has been fabulous. Martin has been really helpful – he’s a nice person. It felt very comfortable and he’s always been there for me when I need him.

“While in custody I was working for the Trinity café in Leeds to begin with then I got my head down with my education and got my GCSE in maths and English.

“I was asked by Novus if I wanted to have an interview for a job with the Bayford Foundation and someone came out from the college and interviewed me and then recommended me to them. I had a second interview and got the job when I was released.

“I always pleaded not guilty to the crime I was accused of so it was difficult for me to go to prison especially at my age. But I have to say that the officers and the teachers there were always very kind to me and supportive.”

“I always pleaded not guilty to the crime I was accused of so it was difficult for me to go to prison especially at my age. But I have to say that the officers and the teachers there were always very kind to me and supportive”

Sue started to work for TRFC shortly after release: “I’m a sales executive – I completed my probationary period and they offered me the full-time job a few weeks later. I’ve been there a year now and I love it. They’re a nice bunch of people and the bosses are so nice.”

Sue recently attended the Employability Awards, organised by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), where the Bayford Foundation was a finalist in the small business of the year category following a nomination by Novus. The ceremony in London was attended by Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt MP and hosted by BBC journalist, Kirsty Lang.

“I went down to London and it was wonderful – I really enjoyed the awards and it was great to be able to promote the company because they do such good work,” says Sue.

“I’ve never had experience of the justice system before so going to prison was terrifying, especially at my age but I’ve had a lot help particularly when I was so depressed. And the opportunity for education was there and I think that was the most important part – if there is something for people to do in the prisons they have something to look forward to.

“I’ve now got a full-time job doing something I like and I am now thinking of volunteering with West Yorkshire CRC as a Peer Mentor.”