Lord John Bird is joining other ex-offenders and people who are in recovery from addiction in telling their powerful stories on a new podcast aiming to smash the stigma that prevents people moving on from their past.
Hollywood actor Jason Flemyng is hosting More Than My Past’s podcast which builds on the online campaign to celebrate stories of people who have overcome the barriers which prevent people with difficult pasts from finding and work and reaching their full potential.
The #MTMPpodcast has launched today. I spoke with actor Jason Flemyng about making it from being locked up, to the @UKHouseofLords. Listen now on all podcast platforms https://t.co/Z48iL4HKcW #MoreThanMyPast @morethanmypast
— John Bird (@johnbirdswords) July 2, 2020
The Forward Trust’s More Than My Past campaign launched last year, featuring legendary Arsenal footballer Tony Adams and ex-Big Issue vendor-turned-London’s happiest bus driver Patrick Lawson as poster boys.
Big Issue founder Lord Bird’s fascinating life story features on the next step of the campaign as he tells Flemyng his journey “from lockup to the Lord”, charting his spells in homelessness as a youngster and his stints in prison before he turned it all around to form a successful career in the print industry. From there, he, of course, teamed up with co-founder Gordon Roddick to launch The Big Issue and is now bringing his political views on rehabilitation into the House of Lords.
The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.
Lord Bird tells Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star Flemyng on the podcast: “I think I’m the highest placed ex-offender in the country. We have to promote the healthy growth of people while they’re banged up – and not just treat it as ’you are a naughty boy or girl, we are now going to punish you.’”
As well as Lord Bird, Flemyng hears from Squeeze lead songwriter and ex-alcoholic Chris Difford and inspirational ex-addict and ex-offender turned drug and alcohol treatment centre manager Kirsty Day in the first batch of episodes.
The cause one that speaks to Flemyng’s passion for helping prisoners – he has worked in prisons near his South London home for twenty years, including training listeners for the Samaritans and helping run a prisoners’ radio station at Wandsworth. He said: “I’ve got interested in these people’s stories as they come out and struggle to make something of their new lives outside of incarceration. We’re going to bring you some amazing guests who you would not believe have gone through that system.”
Mike Trace, CEO of The Forward Trust, is interviewed in the podcast’s introductory episode and explains the intent behind the podcast. “The cliché of evil criminals who have just decided to live that life doesn’t hold – a lot of people in prison, with drug and alcohol problems or homeless are struggling to turn their lives around. We have lots of events within Forward Trust where our community gets together and celebrates those who have done well. We’re just trying to replicate that online and take it to a wider audience.”
The More Than My Past podcast is available now on all major podcast platforms.