The kind Sheffield cafe boss who gave a job to a homeless ex-prisoner

A Sheffield businessman has won praise for giving a new lease of life to a man who has spent most of his life in prison, on the streets or in the grip of addiction.

By Lee Peace
Friday, 21 June, 2019, 16:08

Jason Otter, aged 37, was first introduced to heroin at the age of 13 and went to prison for the first time when he was 15.

Jason and Liam.

He has since been back to either young offenders’ institutions or adult prison more than 20 times, he says, and has spent most of his time on the outside on the streets.

On Thursday, however, Jason - or T as many people know him - began his first day’s work in more than 10 years, at Gaard coffee in Kelham Island.

The job came about after Gaard owner Liam Bardell met Jason at the coffee shop and was impressed about his intentions to turn his life around. 

Star readers have taken to Facebook to praise Liam for his gesture of goodwill and to wish Jason well in his new life. 

Nikki Jayne said: “Well done T. You are doing amazing. Liam well done to you too for giving someone the chance to change his life.

“There should be more people like you.”

Stephanie Louise posted: “Good man” and added: “Makes me so proud."

Linda Jean said: “Brilliant. Some uplifting news for a change. Very refreshing.”

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Darren Fidment described it as “an incredible story that gives you faith in humanity.”  

Jason said: “For Gaard to give me this chance feels absolutely amazing.

“It is much more than anyone else has given me.

“They have looked at me differently and thought about my future and not just my past - not just someone begging or taking gear.”

Liam added: “When I got chatting to him I realised he is dedicated to the journey he is on.

“It is about trying to walk a mile in his shoes.

“Everyone has had problems in their past.

“It made me think how does someone in his situation get back to employment.”