A man sent to prison for drink driving and causing serious injuries has slammed employers for refusing to give him a job as a fork lift driver.
Tom Buckle, 37, has applied for more than 200 jobs since he came out of jail 18 months ago.
But only a handful of companies have bothered to even reply – and most are put off by his criminal record, he says.
In and out of prison since he was a teenager, Tom was sentenced to three years behind bars in 2014 after he lost control of his car near his home on the Lakes Estate.
“I’d been drinking and I span off the road going round a corner,” he said.
In the car were his stepson and stepdaughter, who both suffered broken backs.
Tom was convicted of dangerous driving causing serious injury and drink driving.
“I served 21 months and it was horrible – much worse than the other times I was in prison. But I’ve learned my lesson now and I hardly drink at all now,” he said.
Last year Tom saved up £1,400 to take his fork lift truck driving test, hoping to find work afterwards.
“It’s just a joke. I’ve signed on with four different agencies and apply constantly for jobs. But nobody wants to know,” he said.
“All I want is for employers to look past my criminal record and give me a chance. I want to come off benefits and earn a decent wage for my family.”
Tom’s stepchildren are now fully recovered, he said.
“They have forgiven me and just want me to find a job.”
Q&A with Tom
How many times have you been sent to prison, Tom?
“I first got sent down when I was 16 for aggravated burglary. I was in foster care as a child and I was moved 37 times in nine years, so when I hit 15 I went right off the rails.
“I came out, then later got done for ABH. I seem to have most of my life going in and out of prison.”
Is all that behind you now?
“I’m staying on the straight and narrow. I hardly ever touch alcohol and I would never drink and drive again. I thought when I got my fork lift licence that I could find a job and get my life together. But it hasn’t happened. It’s really annoying.
How do you feel about the accident?
“It was bad. I know that. No other vehicle was involved but I’d been drinking and I caused my own stepchildren to be injured. I’m glad they’re both recovered now.”
Do you declare your criminal convictions on the application form?
“When it gets to the question about convictions, I usually put: “Will discuss further during the interview.” But they must realise or do checks, because I never seem to get an interview.”
Have you had any interest at all from employers in Milton Keynes?
“I’ve had two interviews. One said no and the other place, The Range, took me on for temporary seasonal work over Christmas. It was good there, but they terminated my contract after Christmas because they didn’t need me any more.”