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Ex-offender: People like me do deserve another chance | UK News

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As the Ministry of Justice widens prisoner access to employment opportunities, an ex-offender has spoken of how getting a job stopped him reoffending.

Sat in his flour-covered apron and black chef’s tunic with a tea towel dangling from his waist, 23-year-old Tyler Markarian tells Sky’s home affairs and crime producer Jordan Milne how becoming a chef steered him away from a life of crime.

When I was younger I was a very angry person who hated life and everyone in it. I struggled at school and very quickly fell in with the wrong crowd and started drinking and fighting.

I would hurt people for no reason.

After being caught a couple of times by the police I was finally sent to prison when I was 20 for a series of assaults.

I was sent to HMP Glen Parva, the young offender institute in Leicester, and life inside was terrible.

I lived with people who were in there for committing the same, or worse, crimes than me. And because everyone was young, all they wanted to do was fight. Every time I walked out of my cell, I had to watch my back – you don’t have any friends in prison.

I lost my freedom and I was away from my family. I was living side by side with bad people who could very easily encourage you into taking drugs, smoking the drug spice and fighting.

But being in prison motivated me to do better, I realised I couldn’t live my life the way I had been – just living day to day, not really thinking about my future. I wanted to change my life and do well for my family and for myself.

Mr Markarian says his job has helped him stay out of prison
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Mr Markarian says his job has helped him stay out of prison

I stopped smoking and took time to consider how I was going to change my life.

For me, cooking is something I have always wanted to do. One of my earliest memories is cooking gingerbread and stir fries with my grandma.

So while I was in prison I worked in the kitchen cooking for all the prisoners and was then promoted to work in the staff mess, cooking for the officers.

While still serving my sentence I gained my first cooking qualification.

After leaving prison I applied for the Greene King apprenticeship and started as a pot washer in a pub in Huntingdon.

From there I moved up the ranks to start making starter meals and then main meals, before finally working on the carvery.

But the pub was still in my hometown, I was still carrying the “ex-offender” label, to the people who knew me I was someone to be wary of.

So I asked to transfer to Bury St Edmunds and now I’m just Tyler, the chef who works hard, and people respect me for it.

People like me do deserve another chance.

Mr Markarian now works in a pub in Bury St Edmunds
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Mr Markarian now works in a pub in Bury St Edmunds

Often people forget that those who end up being sent to prison are just normal people, sometimes good people, who took a wrong turn and find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sometimes all people need is a job.

Think about it, if someone is a drug dealer and that’s all they’ve ever known, they go to prison and then they come out and can’t get a job, what are they going to do? They have no option but to make money on the streets again.

Giving that person a job will change their life.

The apprenticeship and job with Greene King gave me the opportunity to prove myself – not a chance that everyone gets.

And now my family are proud of me. I have a future, maybe a restaurant of my own some day. I know without this job I would have ended up back inside, or worse.

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