Ex-offender impresses court with bid to turn life around

An ex offender who left prison with no qualifications convinced a judge to reduce his curfew so he could get to his first job on time.

Michael Warren, 21, of Buller Road Lordswood was released with an electronic tag in 2009- his licence meant he had to be home between 7am and 9 pm.

His ex girlfriend had just given birth to a baby girl and he was desperate to turn his life around.

After completing a work placement and a construction course Michael was offered a job, but the curfew meant he could not get to work on time.

Eventually his hard graft was enough to persuade a judge to reduce his licence so he could start to build a future.

Michael said "I had decided that was it. I was going to turn my life around. It was a very long road but when I got the job I was overwhelmed"

"Now I can buy stuff for my baby and take my girlfriend out."

Michael's solicitor, Ruth Alabaster of Robin Murray and Co said it was a matter of convincing the judge that Michael meant business.

Michael served 120 days in prison for violent disorder during a fight in a pub in 2009.

After his release the Job Centre sent him on a 13 week course run by employment agency, Sarina Russo.

He finished it in six.

The agency helped him to get his construction certificates and secured him volunteer work at the Caring Hands centre in Chatham.

Once he showed himself to be a hard worker, his case worker secured him volunteer work at the Caring Hands Centre in Chatham.

Once he had shown himself to be a hard worker, his case worker secured him a labouring job with the Wyselabour Agency.

He now has regular contact with his daughter, Whitney, 11 months, and is in a stable relationship with his new girlfriend, Heather Fox 17.

In three months his tag will be removed.

He said "I'm just getting right on with it-learning while I am working. Hopefully, in a couple years I will be able to have my own site".

Mark Lowe of Wyselabour, has praised Michael's work ethic: "He is now on his third contract and is doing very well."

His advisor at Sarina Russo, Marion Warren, said it can be difficult for employers to trust ex-offenders, but she believed in Michael from the beginning.

"I felt absolutely delighted for him. He worked hard. He didn't ever let me down once. He deserved it. It's very frustrating at times, if they come in very, very demoralized and demotivated, completely lacking in confidence. We believe in every one of them.

Sarina Russo is part of the Community task force programme; a government initiative that helps people aged 18-24 back into work.