He had no job, a criminal record and was living in supported accommodation. Life was hard for Antony Singh, who grew up in care and had spent the last 17 years in and out of prison. His mental health was at risk because his criminal conviction was holding him back from finding a job. Now, thanks to the Restart Scheme delivered by Triage, Antony has been given the second chance he always wanted.
“Before I joined the programme I was stuck in a rut and had no hope that things would get better,” says Antony, from Hartlepool. The 48-year-old had been out of prison for eight months and was frustrated by his inability to find a job when he signed up to Restart. The scheme offers tailored support to people who have been out of work for at least 12 months and are receiving universal credit. The aim is to help them find a job and stay in work.
Antony was put in touch with Triage adviser Gemma Marriott, who realised his job searching was ineffective due to a lack of IT skills. She enrolled Antony on to an IT course and helped him create a CV. The biggest priority, however, was to get Antony out of supported accommodation. Gemma contacted Atterway estate agents in Hartlepool, who advised that they could help. After viewing a property with Antony, Gemma helped him apply for it and arranged an appointment with Hartlepool Borough Council to request assistance with a bond.
Gemma also began liaising with partner Clean Slate Solutions, a charity which supports ex-offenders across Teesside and North Yorkshire into paid employment. With the big move just a fortnight away, Antony needed essential household items but could not afford them. Clean Slate applied for a grant from Nepacs, another charity supporting prisoners in the north east. Colleagues from Triage donated household goods while Antony’s probation worker applied for a white goods grant.
Once he had settled into his new home, Antony needed to find work. He diligently searched for vacancies. When Gemma spotted a vacancy for a labourer and applied for it on Antony’s behalf, he was thrilled to be offered the role.
“When I first started coming to Triage I wasn’t sure what to expect,” says Antony. “I am now happy in my new home, in work and earning money. I am back in a stable routine and in a much better place than I was when I got out of prison.
“My experience has been excellent. Without Triage and particularly Gemma, I would still be in supported accommodation and not in work now. I am very thankful and would honestly recommend Triage to anyone!”
Triage delivers the Department for Work and Pensions' Restart scheme across Middlesbrough, Redcar, Cleveland, and Hartlepool.