A truckload of ambition – Ben’s story

I was released from prison with £46, a bag of clothes and two cigarettes, into a hostel in a town where I had never been before. It wasn’t easy to get a job because most companies don’t want the potential risk and investment needs that come with employing an ex-offender. Companies like my current one are few and far between. Here the ethos is to have a positive social impact on the local community by investing in staff. During the interview I was full and frank in discussions about my history. I feel this helped the manager gauge where I was in my life, and I was given the job. I gain a huge amount of satisfaction from my work and enjoy the day-to-day responsibilities that go with being a mechanic.

My next aim is to start my own business. I started working on a plan in prison which is to buy old HGVs and break and then sell the components. Ideally, I would like to tap into emerging markets as the requirement for second-hand components in these economies is huge.

I faced difficulties in getting a loan because of poor credit rating. Slowly I have built it  up and now have access to a credit card with a £250 limit! Doesn’t sound a lot but I am on the path to being able to access the amount of capital needed if the business model needs adapting or changing if things don’t go to plan. 

PET funded my Business AS Level course in prison and awarded me a small business start-up grant that helped me buy a laptop and printer after release. I have also been given a lot of valuable support from the Princes’ Trust, including a four-day training session, a business mentor and access to finance.

Fundamentally education has given me self-belief and confidence, and has taught me that I can achieve goals I set myself using hard work and focus. It has also given me the ability to communicate with the different professionals I need to collaborate or associate with, using language I would never normally have used.

I am determined to work hard and hopefully one day be in a position to help others; not just prisoners but anyone regardless of class or ethnicity who needs help or wants to fulfil their potential. I now feel I have knowledge, and knowledge is key in my business success.

Ben originally wrote this story for PET's distance learning newsletter, distributed to all our distance learners in January 2017