MICHAEL Sargood, a sober blogger and the man behind Southend’s “sober socials”, gave up alcohol more than three years ago and it has transformed his life.

Now, he is set to start a new role with an addiction charity and has revealed the difficulty he and many others face when finding a role after a battle with addiction or prior convictions.

Finding a job in today’s economic climate is hard. Can you imagine how much harder it is for someone with a history of addiction and criminal convictions?

Due to past mistakes, this is not something I have to imagine. It has been my reality for some time. Past addiction and criminality makes you an “untouchable” in the eyes of most employers, even if, like me, you have done the hard work of turning your life around.

Yesterday, I turned 1,000 days sober of alcohol and drugs. Yet, until now, I’ve found it almost impossible to find anything but zero-hours, minimum-wage employment in grim industrial roles, where:

  • I have been homophobically bullied with no action taken
  • I have been frequently laid off for days at a time with a few hours’ notice; and
  • I have been injured (without sick pay) and received permanent hearing damage.

Such is the reality for many of life after the justice system. Such is the reality of zero-hours contracts. Despite the long hours, I’ve simply not been able to make ends meet and am reluctantly putting my flat on the market to pay off mounting debts, something I have been reluctant to do.

It’s not for pity that I’m posting this. It’s because, until this year, I was blithely unaware of the ordeal many workers suffer at the hands of greedy employers who reap the dividends of denying the lowest-paid members of their workforce basic job security.

I’d like to say the employers in my case were small businesses with unreliable or seasonal work. But they weren’t. One was a major international car manufacturer. The other was a large food manufacturer whose office was obscenely decorated with £50 notes.

It’s against this backdrop that I am so proud and excited to announce that, from Monday, I shall be working for an addiction recovery organisation, combining my 18 years’ experience of engagement and communications with my passion for addiction, recovery and rehabilitation. For me, this is huge.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found a progressive and understanding employer who is able to see beyond my past struggles and give me a chance to prove my worth, rebuild my life and help others to overcome similar struggles in their lives.

I can honestly say that I – like so many others who are overlooked for their chequered pasts – have never been so rightrife for employment. With my past struggles firmly behind me, I am able to bring my best self to work and flourish.

If you are an employer, I urge you to give ex-alcoholics, ex-addicts and ex-offenders a chance to prove themselves. Overcoming the towering hurdles of addiction, poor mental health and offending is no mean feat. It requires a level of determination, commitment and self-belief that any employer should be proud to have on their team.