Member Stories
Member Story - Adam
Written by Hannah, Employment Team Adviser

Adam* is a softly-spoken man in his 40s. I’ve been working with him for a year and a half as his Employment Team Adviser. When I first started working with him, he was feeling low and struggling to stay positive, but I have really seen him change and grow in that time.

I interviewed Adam for our Clean Sheet News update. He grew up in a middle class household in a commuter town. He did really well at school and college, started work at 16 and worked hard to do everything he could to be an “upstanding and moral person”.

Life sadly took its toll on Adam and in his 40s he had a breakdown. He wasn’t fully recovered when he committed his first (and only) offence. Leading up to his court case, Adam suffered a major relapse in his mental health, experiencing auditory hallucinations and feeling suicidal.

“It’s difficult to put into words what you lose when you have a criminal conviction. Not only have you lost a degree of your liberty through the court order or a custodial sentence, but you also lose something far more personal to you. You lose a piece of yourself. Not just your dignity, not your pride, not just your ego for doing what you thought was right and it coming back to bite you – you lose your sense of who you are and your place in society.”

After nine months, Adam was released on Home Detention Curfew – known by most people as a ‘tag’. The culture shock of going from prison to the outside world was overwhelming, with things that had been normal for so long suddenly being alien to him. The first time he went to a shop and he took out some change from his pocket to pay, he panicked that he would be reprimanded as money is contraband (i.e. classed as illegal) in prison.

Adam found out about Clean Sheet whilst he was still in prison and was looking for ways to cope on his release. He said that discovering that there were proper employers, not just zero hours contract work, that Clean Sheet could put him in touch with was a “breath of fresh air” and gave him hope.

Once on the outside, Clean Sheet kept in touch regularly via calls, emails, and WhatsApp every other week. He said having someone call him up and ask “how are you doing, are you okay?” was crucial in encouraging him to keep going.

The early days after his release were extremely bleak, with financial struggles as well as emotional stress. Over time however, Adam became more confident and adjusted back into normal life. He eventually got work as a cleaner and started to run his own business in December as a contract cleaner. Then Covid-19 hit.

Fortunately, his employed work meant that he was eligible for the furlough scheme and didn’t lose all hope of income. During furlough, he completed about 166 hours of Continuous Professional Development through professional qualifications. He has been able to get back into work as the lockdown eased.

I asked him how Clean Sheet had helped him to readjust to life and start over. In his own words:

“To have that human contact – to have that person who is genuinely asking how you’re doing because they’re genuinely concerned – is brilliant. Your family are concerned for you, but equally you’ve heard it from them so much it can lose its potency. [So many] times I’ve had jobs sent through, I’ve applied and I’ve not been successful. But I’ve not lost out because of my conviction, but because there was a better candidate. I can live with that. Clean Sheet have been brilliant to me. They have kept me focused, kept me going, and I would have been lost without them.”

“Thank God for Clean Sheet, because you’ve given me hope.”

*name changed to protect identity

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Telephone: 0300 123 3045

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