'I’m proud I’m not letting people down anymore': Irish company gives former prisoner chance to rebuild his life

'I’m proud I’m not letting people down anymore': Irish company gives former prisoner chance to rebuild his life

AN ex-prisoner has been given the chance to rebuild his life thanks to a new construction employment scheme introduced by Irish firm Powerday.

Tony Hogg from Southwark is currently working on a new 170 metre tower under construction in Blackfriars, London after Powerday offered him the opportunity to turn things around.

The Londoner, who was released from prison last year, studied for a formal qualification in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment and a CSCS Labourer Green Card while still imprisoned.

Upon release he was offered onsite training by Powerday after being recommended by Irishman Steve Finn, a senior manager for the social enterprise Blue Sky.

Mr Hogg's responsibilities include assisting with waste removal, dealing with water leaks and erecting and dismantling fences. Within a couple of months, he is expected to move into a handyman position and be trained as a fire marshal and first aider.

It all could have gone very differently for the father-of-three, who was jailed three years ago after being caught growing cannabis.

England and Wales release around 90,000 prisoners per annum, but 75 per cent of prisoners have no job upon release. Tony was lucky.

“They’ve changed my life, I haven’t looked back since they gave me this chance,” the 39-year-old told The Irish Post.

“I’ve got three kids at home and this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I really mean that. There’s no looking back.

“They’ve given me responsibilities which make me feel valued. I’m quite proud of myself that I’m not letting people down anymore.”

He added: “Even my mum and dad have noticed a change in me. It’s transformed everything, you know? And all I needed was that one chance.”

Mick Crossan, Chairman of Powerday. Picture: Malcolm McNally

Launched in November 2016, the scheme - running in partnership with Blue Sky and HMP Onley - gives inmates from the Category C prison in Northamptonshire the opportunity to receive training and subsequent employment with Blue Sky and Powerday at construction sites across London.

Mr Hogg is one of an initial four 'delegates' to undertake training under the scheme. As each successful delegate leaves HMP Onley they will be offered a six month contract of employment with Blue Sky who will place them within Powerday’s teams on site.

Simon Little, Sales & Marketing Director, Powerday said: “Powerday is committed to helping our local community and Londoners who may not have had the best start in life.

“We are delighted that Tony has started with us and made a great impression on site.

“This initiative will really help ex-offenders get back to work which we know dramatically improves their chances of not reoffending.”

Stephen Kirwan, Construction Director at One Blackfriars, St George added: “We are delighted that following his training programme at HMP Onley, Tony has completed his courses with Powerday and is now able to undertake essential work as part of the team at One Blackfriars.

“He has been a great addition to the team and we wish him the very best of luck for the future”.

The launch of Powerday’s new scheme comes after the announcement in February by the Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, of a shake-up of prisons in England and Wales and the introduction of the new Prisons and Court Bill.

Amongst other measures, the legislation will enshrine into law that a key purpose of prisons is to reform and rehabilitate offenders.

“There’s no chance of me going back to that life now that I’ve been given an incredible opportunity like this,” Tony said. “Onwards and upwards.”