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Poet stars in film to give ex-offenders a future

DUO: Jason Turner and Benjamin Zephaniah (right)

WORLD-RENOWNED dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah is starring in a film made by an ex-offender to help those who have been on the wrong side of the law get back into work.

Making Your Past Pay, a 25-minute film which had its premiere at Cineworld in Solihull, has been commissioned by Staffordshire & West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company (SWM CRC, formerly the Probation Trust).

And in the words of Zephaniah, it’s all about making sure that a person’s past doesn’t define them as they look to the future.

Handsworth’s famous son, who declined an OBE for his services to literature, teamed up with reformed heroin addict and former prolific offender Jason Turner, who now runs the social enterprise group isore Media.

The two hit it off immediately and Zephaniah agreed to take part in the film, which highlights how offenders who are unemployed are twice as likely to re-offend as those with a job.

CHANGES

Recent changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act have affected all employers and ex-offenders, as well as other people involved in the Criminal Justice System.

The film opens with Zephaniah leaving Winson Green Prison where he once served time as a young man.

He said: “This is a film that I took part in partly with my heart, and partly with my soul. I didn’t have a great start in life, but I was given a second chance.

“These people should help other people who need a second chance, and it might even inspire people to give someone else a second chance.

He added: “I’m so proud of this film. I’m proud that it was made in Birmingham – the real city of culture – and I’m proud of the message in this film. We all deserve a future, regardless of our past.”

Turner, who has now been clean for five years, said: “I enjoyed working with everyone, but especially the ex-offenders who brought their own experiences to benefit the project. I hope the film helps as many people as possible to get into employment.”

The film is available to view at: www.swmprobation.gov.uk

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