A STAFFORD teenager who was jailed for a knife crime has said her attempts to turn her life around are being frustrated.
Courtney Martinez, 19, told the Newsletter she regrets the incident, which happened in Exeter Street in 2012, and wants to move on. An altercation involved two groups of people and a man's hand was injured by the knife, she said.
The former Stafford Sports College student, of Silkmore Lane, was jailed for three months in May 2013 after admitting wounding without intent.
During her time at HMP Foston she gained a vocational beauty qualification, with the aim of continuing her studies or getting a job on release.
But she says her conviction is now barring her from using a piece of equipment in her Stafford College course, and despite applying for dozens of jobs she has been unable to find employment.
Her hopes of moving out of Stafford, for a fresh start in another area, have also been dashed she said, because housing associations have turned down her applications for tenancies.
Stafford and Rural Homes told her in a letter: "Due to serious unacceptable behaviour your application is currently excluded and you will not be able to bid or be considered for an offer of accommodation.
"If you can demonstrate over the next 12 months that you have modified your behaviour, then we will consider making your application active on the Housing Register."
Courtney, who is currently living with her mother, said: "I started work when I was 16, and I was just a kid when the crime happened – somebody got stabbed and it was an accident. When I was jailed at 18 I had never been away from my family before. I was terrified.
"I want to move on with my life and I am trying to change but it feels like my life has ended before it's even started. I have tried to get a job for the last six months but no-one will give me a chance.
"I have spoken to quite a few girls like me and they are experiencing the same sort of difficulties. How can they be expected to change their lives if no-one will give them a chance?"
The challenges faced by jobseekers with convictions is currently being covered on BBC TV show Invasion of the Job Snatchers, in which 28-year-old Carl Owen, of Warrington, is offered a position as an apprentice butcher despite his criminal record.
Courtney has also considered becoming self employed and setting up her own nail-care business. She said recruitment firm Pertemps had helped by sending her on a business course.
She is currently continuing her vocational training part-time at Stafford College.
"I did apply for the full time course but wasn't allowed because they had a problem with me using the nail knife," she said.
"Now I am having a problem using the nail knife on the part time course, but I will be able to complete it."
A Stafford College spokeswoman said they were unable to comment on individual cases.
"Anybody who has a conviction is asked to declare it when they apply," she added. "As a responsible organisation, we have to put in place certain procedures and one of them would be a risk assessment."