About 3am this morning I was woken by a text from someone I had known spent time inside prison. I was quite surprised to hear from Mike as we hadn’t spoken for a long time even if we email once every few months.
The message read:
‘Hi, Matt it’s Mike how’s things going at Low Moss, well I’ve gt a interview with a bakery tomorrow at twelve, but can I say your name for a reference or something in them lines, Matt was wanting your advice, during interview I will need to tell them about my time in prison, I know it will not go my way, big thanks if you can text me back, Mike.’
I had met Mike two years ago when I had no job and was trying to set up Freedom Bakery. He had been out of prison for some time and had trained as a baker over twenty years ago. He had not had a job since he was released and couldn’t get anywhere finding work.
We met in Glasgow in summer 2014 and I had bought him a coffee in a café near Central Station. He spoke about the troubles of his past and the focus to restore his life. He was seeking a job from me but I had to tell him that I wasn’t even employed yet and that because of his criminal record I wouldn’t be able to get him inside prison, even if I could offer him work. We did some work on his CV and periodically I would hear from Mike from time to ask how things are going and if there were any opportunities.
What struck me about the message was the timing. In the early morning and on the day of the interview. Mike had waited a long time for this opportunity and is close to getting a chance to work, and sustain a normal life. The pressure must be immense on his mind. It struck me that serving time in prison is only the beginning of one’s incarceration. There is the internal incarceration following release that only plays havoc with ones self-respect, and another incarnation from society: one that views Mike as undesirable.
I believe that our interactions over the past 2 years have shown Mike to have a strong determination to get into work, and that even without success, he has not succumbed to re-offending. It remains to be seen the outcome of today’s interview, but I hope they can see Mike for who he is and for his ability to do the job, not for what he did in the past.