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  Posted by: electime      2nd August 2021

Building services engineering company, Ameon, has given an employment lifeline to an ex-offender as part of the Custody 2 Work (C2W) initiative, and in return, the newly installed electrical apprentice has decided to show his appreciation by running in this year’s  Manchester Marathon, in aid of the company’s chosen charity in its 25th anniversary year!

Ameon has been praised by Fylde MP, Mark Menzies for its engagement in the scheme, which has helped 33-year-old Rob Parker from Ulverston in Cumbria, to get back on the career ladder following his imprisonment in 2018 for drugs related offences.

When imprisoned, having the freedom to run a marathon and get a great job were just a pipedream for Rob but through the C2W scheme he’s achieving both in the same year.

Rob’s road to rehabilitation began when he received his sentence, which he described as the first day of his new life. From that point, rather than sit and look at four walls, the one-time apprentice electrician planned for life back in society by sending letters and c/v to companies he researched in the prison library at HMP Kirkham, and by volunteering for C2W, which prepares offenders for a return to the workplace.

Those two decisions turned Rob’s life around, and despite Covid lockdowns halting apprenticeship training for a while, he has left prison with a job with real prospects. Rob said: “My darkest days were when on bail awaiting trial, because I couldn’t look beyond that point in time.   Then, when sentenced, it was as though a light came on and I knew that I could make amends to my mum and dad for the hurt and shame I’d caused them.  I could see beyond prison and I knew also that I could make a contribution to society, if I had an opportunity.

“Clearly, drugs offences are very serious and I accepted my sentence as justified but I didn’t want it to define my life, which is why I viewed my release as the first step on the road back.  That road was opened by the C2W scheme and by Ameon, who took a chance on me.  And it’s a chance I do not intend to squander.”

Rob Parker may have had to start his apprenticeship training all over again because of the pandemic but he’s taken that in his stride, as he has his rigorous training regime for the marathon, which he’ll run to raise funds for Brian House Children’s Hospice in Blackpool. He now works on one of Ameon’s major contracts in the North West, and is looking forward to qualifying as an electrician in a little over three years. And his is perhaps a story to inspire other employers to look beyond the ‘offender’ label.

Ameon’s principal contract manager, Dave Scott, is the man responsible for Rob’s appointment.  He had no hesitation in offering him a job and is in no doubt that he’ll be a success. He commented: “The minute I read Rob’s extremely candid and articulate letter I knew this young man had the intellect to understand his predicament and also the nous to know how to change his circumstances for the future.

“In truth, none of us here knew what to expect of him in the workplace but he’s been a model employee and is really keen to learn. He’s also actually a really nice lad, who is keen for his story to inspire others, which is another thing people might find hard to believe, because it’s sometimes difficult for people to see beyond the label.

“Rob’s appointment proves that everyone is capable of making a positive contribution if they have the chance, so more opportunities like this can only be good for business and society as a whole.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has also praised the scheme and Ameon’s willingness to participate.  He believes initiatives such as the Government’s Custody 2 Work programme work well on a number of levels.   He commented:  “The business, in this case, Ameon takes on a dedicated member of staff keen to learn and train in a new role, and they in turn continue their rehabilitation and leave prison with real prospects.  There is an element of corporate social responsibility for Ameon, who also get a great new member of the team, and there is less chance of reoffending for the trainee who feels valued and worthy working in a new role.”