I served over 5 years in prison and had been working for Census Group throughout my sentence. Census Group trained me as a Call Centre Operative and helped me through my sentence. When I was at work it seemed I was not in prison, I had a proper job with a good prison wage and I was able to buy luxuries such as coffee, sweets and toiletries. This meant I was not relying on my family to send money in and I was able to buy a few Christmas presents for my children with some of the money I saved. I knew if I worked well, they would give a job at the end of my sentence.

Knowing they would give me a job on release was a massive relief. Census Group know your background and you have the support of the whole team. They are understanding when you have to go to probation appointments and I do not feel discriminated against for having a criminal record.

The major factor is that you are earning money straight away and they are willing to pay you on a weekly basis at first. Just knowing that you are going to be able to pay your rent, bills, food and will be able to start leading a normal life is a massive weight off your shoulders.

Without the support of Census Group, I would have had to go to the Job Centre, wait for benefits and to start looking for a job, which can be difficult when you have a criminal recorded. Also, the time of applying for jobs and waiting for interviews, can be a lengthy process, plus explaining the gap within your employment history.

Since my release and working for Census Group, I feel I have settled into life a lot quicker and I am now working full-time hours; over 40 hours per week. It has given me a routine straight away, which I needed when I was released as it gave me a focus. I have all the support of the team members, who I can ring at any time, even if it’s not work-related and more importantly I feel like I am living again and a member of society.

I cannot thank Census Group enough for all the support they have given me – I would not be where I am after 5 months of release without their support.

My Fight


More to explore

Breaking the mould

It is widely reported that staff turnover in the call centre industry is around 26% annually, considerably above the national average of 15%.

Richard rowley

Richard Rowley is the Managing Director at Census Life and is responsible for all criminal justice work the social enterprise undertakes. 

Richard has over 20 years’ experience of working with voluntary, public and private sector organisations in the criminal justice arena and still retains the same desire to support people to become the very best they can be. 

Richard is also very proud to be a Trustee for POPS (Partners of Prisoners and Families Support Group) in Manchester. 

On the off-chance he is away from work, you’ll find Richard watching football, cooking and spending time with his family – not necessarily in that order!

Kelly Carrel

Kelly Carrel is the Chief Executive of Census Life and is responsible for leading the strategic direction and overall effectiveness of the organisation.

 Kelly has over 20 years’ experience of working within the Customer Management sector and, over the past 7 years, has used this experience to provide meaningful work experience and relevant training to those farthest from the job market.

Most specifically Kelly is focussed on individuals serving custodial sentences, and working with them during this period to ensure they have opportunities for employment on release. Passionate about pursuing social mobility, through the route of employment, this is the key driver of the work for Kelly and her team.

Outside of the office, Kelly enjoys travelling, martial arts & air acrobatics along with spending time with friends and family.

The Census story

Census Group was founded in 2013 by Ian and Kelly Carrel, following their respective careers working in large scale in-house and outsourced contact centre operations both in the UK and overseas.

In 2010 Criminal Record Bureau (now DBS) background checking was becoming ever more prevalent, regardless of whether the role required it. The founders recognised there was an urgent need to address the issues highlighted by this process, as more contact centre agents were losing roles across the industry with a ‘blanket’ approach being applied to every adverse CRB check. This experience in contact centre environments highlighted a significant frustration – having to let well-trained, enthusiastic staff go when their checks returned showing previous criminal convictions. With attrition rates in the industry reaching levels of >25% we knew we could develop an incredibly competent workforce that would also have a wider impact on society

Through our corporate social responsibility strategy we have consistently reinvested profits, to go the extra mile and support colleagues as they leave prison and reintegrate back into our communities. To make this much more fundamental to our work we have developed Census Life, our not-for-profit social enterprise.