Rashel took part in a painting and decorating course run by Bounce Back, a charity focussed on the training and employment of ex offenders.
I personally didn’t think that I would ever work; you know I thought I could make my money the unlegit way.
I was mostly into the street life you know. Selling drugs and making money through illegal means and living the fast lane lifestyle. Getting in trouble with the police, drugs, alcohol and all those other things.
I was identified in the prison as being a potential candidate for a training programme and I’m now on ROTL from Monday to Friday. I come out from 7.30am ‘til 7pm to work. I can’t go anywhere else, and I finish work I to go straight back to the prison.
Bounce Back is a direct route from custody or from probation in to employment. The first stages were learning how to paint and then you start working as an apprentice. After that you start working towards your NVQ Level 2 and once you get that then you become a proper qualified painter.
I started working with guys that had been painting 12/13 years so obviously they’ve got a lot of experience in what they do. Once they said I was ready, the social enterprise offered me paid employment.
The first time I got paid I was very happy even though the money was small but I worked for that money. I want to leave the life of crime behind me, like I don’t want it no more you know what I’m saying I want a good life, I want a working life.
It’s legit money I don’t want to have to worry about nothing else, no police taking it away anything like that, its just my legit money and I paid my tax. Now I know when I get released I’ve got something to go to, something, you know, a job waiting for me once I get released. My ambition is to open my own little painting and decorating business.
Rashel was released from prison in May 2013.
When I first go out one of the big challenges was that I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. I tried to look for jobs but didn’t know where to start. I didn’t even know how to write a CV.
Bounce Back gave me a job with them as a painter and decorator. I work there five days a week at the moment, fully paid, but if I get any painting and decorating work through my own company they let me go and do that then come back to them. If I get lots of work with my own company then I might not be able to do that but at the moment it is working out well.
My vision for the future is to have an established painting and decorating company and get contracts from big companies. It’s hard because I don’t know how to go about setting up a proper established business, dealing with insurance and stuff like that but I’m trying to get professional advice about this and have been talking to Working Links who have been helpful.
If I was to give advice to anyone thinking about applying for training with Bounce Back I’d say go for it. If you put your mind to it you can achieve anything. Bounce Back are experienced in working with ex-offenders so know what they’re talking about, listen to you and don’t judge you. They give you all the skills you need to be a painter and decorator and give you a plan for the future. You get out and they don’t let you down.