But em­ploy­ers can’t over­look his past

South Wales Evening Post - - LETTERS -

to se­cure more em­ploy­ment, and be­lieves po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers “can’t look past his past”.

“It was the right time to do it as I also had to have knee lig­a­ment re-align­ment surgery which takes six to nine months re­cov­ery too,” he added.

“I worked for seven years do­ing ten­ancy sup­port, I re­ceived a Du­nant award for help­ing at Gren­fell, I’ve met Prince Charles, but what­ever I’ve done doesn’t seem to mat­ter.

“Henry Du­nant was the founder of the British Red Cross and they don’t give the awards out to just any­body, only a hand­ful are given out ev­ery cou­ple of years and I was for­tu­nate enough to re­ceive that for help­ing at Gren­fell, but now I’m not be­ing given a chance and I’m just be­ing judged on my past.

“No­body seems to look at the fact that I’ve worked with the Red Cross. I’ve done my bit to show that I’m wor­thy in so­ci­ety.

“I want to work in care now but I’m still bat­tling against my past. They love me in in­ter­views but then they do back­ground checks and can’t look past my past.

“I’ve been to in­ter­views and peo­ple have said that ev­ery­thing is good but then when the back­ground check comes they say that they can’t take a chance.

“I don’t want to give in with care be­cause I’ve done it for the past seven years and it’s all I ac­tu­ally know apart from be­ing a crim­i­nal.

“Ad­dicts are asked to come to a place that they don’t know and they’re not fa­mil­iar with and when they get there, they’re just left there and that’s why peo­ple go back [to drugs].”

Mr Chant re­ceives em­ploy­ment and sup­port al­lowance but, de­spite this, has been us­ing lo­cal food banks to be able to feed him­self.

He ex­plained that his men­tal health had suf­fered as a re­sult of help­ing at Gren­fell and that the death of his step-son Bren­don Holder, who took his own life last Au­gust, had been a “big loss” in his life.

Mr Holder, who was also known as Bren­don Martin Rudge, posted a heart­break­ing fi­nal mes­sage to his friends and fam­ily be­fore tak­ing his own life.

He put up a pic­ture of him­self as a baby with his mum, and wrote: “Sorry for any­one I hurt. Please don’t think I’m self­ish. I wasn’t the best of sons and friend. I am sorry see you all soon . . . Sorry for who I hurt. Bye guys.”

The 24-year-old was found shortly after in the early hours of Satur­day, Au­gust 4.

Mr Chant added: “I’m at my low­est at the mo­ment and I don’t want to live some days but I don’t want to give in.

“I feel so alone but I’m still try­ing to re­main pos­i­tive.

“Bren­don was the only per­son that I would speak to and he was al­ways thank­ful that I stuck around.

“He gave me a teddy when he was 10 and I’ve al­ways kept it. I can’t even put it into words.

“His teach­ers told me at his fu­neral that he was so proud of me and had told them about me be­ing an ad­dict and help­ing at Gren­fell with the Red Cross.”

De­spite feel­ing “at his low­est”, Mr Chant now wants to fo­cus his life on car­ing for oth­ers and putting back into the com­mu­nity what he says he “took away as a crim­i­nal”.

“I want to give back to the com­mu­nity and I want to have a nor­mal life. I just want to go to work, care for peo­ple and come home,” he said.

“I want to make peo­ple happy and do a good deed for the day and I want to put back in what I took away as a crim­i­nal.

“I do want to fight the cor­ner for peo­ple like me be­cause what are we sup­posed to do?

“With em­ploy­ers, it’s the fear of me do­ing some­thing wrong be­fore I’ve even done it.

“It’s kind of heart­break­ing. I want to high­light how hard it is to still be judged and for ex­ad­dicts to re­ha­bil­i­tate. “I’ve come so far.” Drug and al­co­hol char­ity, Ad­dac­tion, sup­ports peo­ple to make a last­ing change in their lives by help­ing to al­ter their be­hav­iour to be­come the best they can be.

Karen Tyrell, from Ad­dac­tion, said em­ploy­ers should be en­cour­aged to look at em­ploy­ees on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis.

“Peo­ple who are re­cov­er­ing from al­co­hol, drug and men­tal health prob­lems are some of the most de­ter­mined and in­sight­ful peo­ple you could meet,” she said.

“Their life ex­pe­ri­ence can bring a re­ally help­ful new per­spec­tive and they are of­ten highly val­ued by em­ploy­ers for their ded­i­ca­tion to what they do.

“Em­ploy­ers of­ten ask can­di­dates about crim­i­nal con­vic­tions as part of a job ap­pli­ca­tion.

“This puts up bar­ri­ers for peo­ple with a his­tory of sub­stance abuse.

“Know­ing about some­one’s his­tory might feel im­por­tant for em­ploy­ers, but it’s of­ten a false com­fort.

“We’d en­cour­age all em­ploy­ers to look at each em­ployee on a case by case ba­sis.

“We are all more than our past.”

Pic­ture: Robert Me­len

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