Employment

Tony Adams is fronting a campaign to ask employers to look beyond the past

The Arsenal legend and ex-Big Issue vendor-turned-London’s happiest bus driver Patrick Lawson are part of the Forward Trust’s More Than My Past

Tony Adams More Than My Past

Ex-Big Issue vendor Patrick Lawson has been given equal billing with Arsenal football legend Tony Adams in a new campaign asking employers to ignore difficult pasts to allow people to reach their true potential.

The Forward Trust’s More Than My Past campaign kicks off today asking ex-offenders and those in recovery from addiction to share their story and help end the stigma that holds back so many people in the UK.

People in both groups are the least likely to be employed in the UK, according to figures, with three quarters of prisoners having no job on release despite the huge role it plays in preventing re-offending. Meanwhile a quarter of people in recovery have been turned down for jobs three times or more after disclosing their past.

Gunners hero Adams has had a widely disclosed battle with addiction – as he discussed in a revealing Letter To My Younger Self with The Big Issue last year – and even went to prison for drink driving in 1990.

As for Lawson, his spells in prison were interspersed with times spent rough sleeping in London. Last year, he won Hello London Award for Outstanding Community Service at TfL’s London Bus Awards after being dubbed the “happiest bus driver in London”.

The social enterprise bus company he drives for, HCT Group, is one of the campaign’s backers along with catering company Cook and Timpsons, who are renowned for employing former prisoners.

The Forward Trust cite Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development research that reckons employers need to seek out new pools of talent to fill the void left by Brexit’s impact on the labour market.

And the charity’s chiefs believe that ex-offenders and those recovering from addiction could fill the breach.

“We know that, if we show a belief in their ability to make a positive change, and give them the opportunity to prove themselves, prisoners can do amazing things,” said Mike Trace, The Forward Trust CEO. “We want the general public and employers to share our belief in this untapped potential and do something to support people to be more than their past”.

HCT Group chief executive Dai Powell added: “We believe that someone’s history shouldn’t define them. We’re proud to support the ‘More Than My Past’ campaign as we believe in the potential of people whose past may not have been perfect. So many individuals still face too many barriers to employment due to a criminal past. But if they are given a chance they can – and do – turn their lives around to become valuable members of society.”

Image: The Forward Trust

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'
Strikes

Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Is 'edgy upstart' BrewDog now 'boring and ubiquitous' after years of scandal? Experts weigh in
BrewDog
Business

Is 'edgy upstart' BrewDog now 'boring and ubiquitous' after years of scandal? Experts weigh in

Train strikes: Rail passengers weigh in as Aslef drivers 'grind services to a halt'
train strikes

Train strikes: Rail passengers weigh in as Aslef drivers 'grind services to a halt'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know