‘I just want to support my little girl’ - Ex-offender given second chance at life at hotel

Gez Chetal, owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, and ex-offender Ryan Lucas, who works as a general assi

Gez Chetal, owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, and ex-offender Ryan Lucas, who works as a general assisstant. Photo: Emily Thomson - Credit: Archant

When Ryan Lucas was sentenced to three years in prison back in 2017, he thought he had lost everything and couldn't see a way out of life on the streets.

Gez Chetal (right), owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, and ex-offender Ryan Lucas, who works as a gene

Gez Chetal (right), owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, and ex-offender Ryan Lucas, who works as a general assisstant. Photo: Emily Thomson - Credit: Archant

But after his early release in June 2018, the 24-year-old has now been given a chance to turn his life around.

Gez Chetal is the founder of the community interest company Prismstart, which helps facilitate employment opportunities for ex-offenders and those who are about to leave prison.

Now, Mr Chetal, the owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, has offered a lifeline to the young father, who is determined to prove that people can change.

Mr Lucas, from Thetford, said: "Back then I didn't care about anything, but now I realise there are consequences to your actions which affect everyone around you.

Gez Chetal, owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, and ex-offender Ryan Lucas, who works as a general assi

Gez Chetal, owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, and ex-offender Ryan Lucas, who works as a general assisstant. Photo: Emily Thomson - Credit: Archant


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"I got myself into a bit of trouble, I lost my job and I was made homeless which led me to get in with the wrong group of people.

"But I did my punishment, I got out early on good behaviour and I moved away from King's Lynn for a fresh start, but it was impossible to find employment. As soon as I put my offence on my CV they would turn me away.

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"I had lost hope but then the job centre put me in contact with Gez who I had already met in prison. He liked my attitude and he could see my desire to work and he offered me a job."

After meeting with Rosy Chetal, Mr Chetal's wife, Mr Lucas was invited to the Thomas Paine Hotel where he was offered a role as a general assistant and started work in December 2019.

Mr Chetal said: "There is a skill shortage in this country, and we can find people who want to work, especially from the prisons.

"Okay he did wrong, he got punished for it, some people do wrong and they need to stay there but others need another chance in life.

"Employers don't always see this, so we bridge the gap between the offender and them."

Mr Lucas added: "I'm so grateful for being given this second chance. I just want to be able to support my little girl the best I can, especially with a new one on the way."

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