More than my past

Work with Offenders looks at a new campaign to help people turn their lives around

We know that most people who get trapped in a life of crime eventually find a way out and turn their lives around. Similarly, we know that people with long-term dependencies on drugs and/or alcohol, can also turn the corner and rebuild their lives.

However, for many people these journeys of desistance and recovery can take a very long time and be extremely arduous. Many people in this situation have had difficult pasts, with the majority experiencing abuse and trauma during childhood, as well as mental health problems. Addictions and negative behaviour frequently stem from these unresolved issues.

Even when people are fully committed and desperate to turn their lives around, they often face a number of additional obstacles. Stigma and negative stereotypes often prevent them from achieving the change they so badly want.

Research has found:

Negative experiences during childhood increases the risk of becoming an alcoholic by 700%

75% of people in recovery and ex-offenders felt that they would be turned down for jobs for disclosing their past

A quarter of people in recovery had been turned down at least three times after disclosing their past

Last month, the Forward Trust launched a national campaign to try to make this process easier. “More Than My Past” sets out to showcase that ex-offenders and people in recovery not only want to change and succeed – they can and do!

The approach is simple – sharing stories of people from all walks of life – helping to show the inspirational truth about those who have overcome addiction and offending. This range of stories shows both just how common crime and addiction are in our society, but how many people succeed in turning their lives around and building a positive future for themselves and their families.

More Than My Past launched with the story of Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams, but has included many, many more with people from all walks of lives. Among the stories, told in first person videos, are examples from business owners, London’s happiest bus driver, students, artists, doctors and entrepreneurs; also including the Forward Trust’s own Head of Recovery.

Indeed, one of the great things about this campaign is that The Forward Trust practices what it preaches. It is a large national charity, helping more than 15,000 people in prisons and the community tackle their addiction and offending last year, (many readers may know the organisation by its previous name of RAPt, best known for its prison drug treatment programmes) yet more than one third of their staff group have lived experience of addiction and/or offending .

Readers can get involved today by sharing your storyjoining the movement, or finding help for yourself or someone you know. Or you can just simply check out the videos as a source of testament to the power of human determination.