On this page…

theHelpline-normal

Before contacting us…

theHelpline is run on limited charitable resources and can get extremely busy. To try and make the best use of our resources, we encourage people with a criminal record to try some way other ways before contacting us directly…

Is the answer on here?

We maintain this self-help information site as a way of people finding answers to questions for themselves. It’s easier for you (and us) if you find the answer to your question on here.

We have a ‘quick links‘ page, which covers the key areas that we receive a lot of requests about. These include:

  1. Is my conviction/caution spent? Use our disclosure calculator or read our guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 including our ‘is it spent’ poster.
  2. Will my conviction/caution be disclosed on a basic disclosure? Work out if it’s spent by using the links above
  3. What types of jobs involve criminal record checks? Read our information on the types of criminal record checks and the eligibility for standard and enhanced checks.
  4. Will my caution/conviction be disclosed on a standard/enhanced DBS check? Or will it be filtered? Read our simple guide on the DBS filtering process, using our flow-chart to help you to work this out.
  5. How can I find out the details of my criminal record? Get a subject access request from the police.
  6. I need to get insurance – where can I go? Read our guidance, download our list of insurance brokers (for home insurance) and list of motor insurers (if you’ve got non-motoring convictions only)
  7. Does my record stop me from going to the United States? Read our simple guide or detailed guide to see if you can travel as normal or whether you have to apply for a visa.

Try our online forum

theForum-crop

We run an online forum for people with convictions. It has many members (who themselves have a criminal record) that regularly give up their time in helping others who are looking for information or advice.

theForum has many questions and answers, or if you can’t find one that answers yours, you can post it and see if anyone has had a similar experience or can share any useful information/advice.

 

Latest tweets – #unlockhelpline


Contact details

Can’t find the answer to your question on this site or our forum? We run a confidential peer-run helpline that supports people in overcoming the effects of criminal convictions.

To contact our helpline you can:helpline_partnership_member_rgb

Call: 01634 247350 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
Text or WhatsApp: 07824 113848
Skype: unlockhelpline
Email: advice@unlock.org.uk
Online: Complete our online form
Write: theHelpline, Unlock, Maidstone Community Support Centre, 39-48 Marsham Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1HH

We ask that individuals contact us directly if possible. If a family member or an organisation working with you contacts us on your behalf, we will normally ask to speak to you.

Current status of theHelpline – Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10am until 4pm. 

For more details about how our helpline works, and what issues we cover, click here.

Frequently asked questions about contacting us

Calling us

Our telephone line is normally open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. If there are any interruptions to our normal opening hours, a notice will be placed in the section above.

Please note: Our helpline is closed on public holidays (e.g. Bank Holidays) and over the Christmas break. The status bar above will be updated accordingly.

Outside of our normal opening times, enquiries can be made by email, online, text, WhatsApp or letter. If your enquiry is urgent, please call theHelpline when it’s open.

We promise to respond to every enquiry that we receive. We try to respond to queries as soon as possible, and are normally able to do so within 5 working days, but sometimes this might be longer if we’re busy.

In the meantime, you may find the answer to your question on this self-help information site. In particular, check out our quick links section which has answers to some of the most common questions we get. Or you might find the answer on our online forum.

We’re just a phone call away and because it’s just a phone call, you’re in total control of what’s happening – you can end the call at any time, and no one needs to know who you are, or where you’re calling from, unless you want them to.

If you’re calling us, you can dial 141 before you dial our number. This will hide your number (please check with your network providers as this doesn’t work on some mobile networks.

Our number will appear on your itemised bill – if someone else will see your telephone bill and you don’t want them to know you’ve called us, you may prefer to use a public telephone or pay-as-you-go mobile. 

We have a voicemail system so that you can leave us a message. If you would like us to call you back, please leave your name, number and brief message after the tone. If possible, please provide us with a landline number and the best time to get hold of you.  If you only have a mobile, we will ask you to ring us back when we return your call.
We don’t generally record calls. However, we occasionally undertake evaluations. If this is the case, we will always give you the opportunity to opt out of taking part.
As a small team, there may be times when we’re open when you can’t get through because we’re busy dealing with other enquiries. You may find the answer to your question using the links at the top of this page. Otherwise, please leave us a message (your contact details are confidential), or contact us in another way (e.g. by email) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Taking a name for you helps us to keep a note of the people that we’re helping. It will be linked to your particular call/enquiry, as part of our case management system. This helps, for example, if you contact us again, as we can link your contacts and make sure we’re providing the best support possible. It also helps us to follow up with you in certain circumstances to see how you’ve got on. We do not share your details externally.
If there is a lot of information to take in, then it may be beneficial to record the call for your own personal use. Any recording or information should not be passed on to a third party without our consent.
Our helpline is manned by trained advisors – a combination of volunteers and staff, all of whom have a criminal record. Volunteer advisors are always supported by a member of staff.

Emailing us

If you email us or send us an online enquiry, please provide us with enough information to give you accurate information or advice. If you call, it’s likely we’ll ask for this information, so please be prepared. Any details you share will be held confidentially, and you don’t have to give us any information that you’d rather not disclose, but this may limit how we can help.

The details you might want to include in your enquiry are:

  • Your name
  • A contact telephone number
  • An email address (if you have one)
  • Whether your contacting about yourself, a family member/friend, or somebody you’re working with
  • The details of your criminal record
  • The specific question that you have
  • Any relevant background information (including how you have tried to resolve the problem so far)
  • Whether there’s anything in particular that you would like us to do to support you with in regards to this situation
  • Any accompanying information (e.g. copies of letters, documents etc) – please do not send originals as we’re unable to return these.
We promise to respond to every enquiry that we receive. We try to respond to queries as soon as possible, and are normally able to do so within 5 working days, but sometimes this might be longer if we’re busy. If your enquiry is urgent, please call our helpline during opening hours.

Texting us or contacting us by WhatsApp

You can use WhatsApp to message us your questions on 07824 113848. We will reply during helpline opening hours.

Contacting us by Skype

We are normally available on Skype during theHelpline’s opening hours, Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm.

General

Our focus is on helping people with convictions to overcome the problems they’re facing because of their criminal record. This includes providing information and advice on issues like disclosing to employers, criminal record checks, insurance and travel. More details on the issues we cover can be found here.

Where you have a problem but it’s not linked to you having a criminal record, we’ll try to point in the direction of other organisations that might be able to help.

Our helpline is primarily run via telephone and email. We’re not normally able to arrange face-to-face appointments, apart from in exceptional circumstances. All requests for face-to-face advice should initially go through our helpline. We are unable to see people who turn up at our office without a pre-booked appointment.
We understand that you might be reluctant to share your personal details with us. However, in order to make sure our advice is accurate, and so that we can follow up our advice with you, we will often ask for your personal details. Although there is no requirement for you to disclose your personal details to us, it does help us to do our job better, and sometimes we may be limited in what we can do without getting these details. Any information you disclose to us will be handled in line with our data protection policy. We do not share your details with others unless you give us your consent to do so.
If you’re feeling desperate and need to speak to someone outside of our opening hours, or you’re having problems getting through at busy times, you can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for the cost of a local call. Or you can email them at jo@samaritans.org.
The helpline is a charitably-funded service which is for people with convictions. We also deal with enquiries from friends and family on behalf of people with convictions. We help practitioners, such as probation officers, careers advisors and job centre workers, through providing other types of support and training. More details can be found on our main website.