Sarah Baker was sentenced to five years in jail. But was given a second chance by Manchester firm Timpsons

An ex-offender has revealed how a Manchester key-cutting firm has helped her unlock the potential to a happy life after prison.

Sarah Baker hit rock bottom after being sentenced to five years behind bars for stabbing a man who attacked her.

But working at Timpson’s Bury branch has helped her turn her life around – and she has now been hailed as one of the firm’s most promising workers.

The key and shoe firm, which is based in Wythenshawe and is still owned by the Timpson family, also operates the Max Spielmann and Snappy Snaps brands.

Sarah, 34, who is originally from Nottingham, got her chance to apply for a position after a representative from the Wythenshawe firm when a representative came to visit her jail to offere potential recruits a chance.

Sarah jumped at the chance and, while under release on licence, worked at the store for six months, going full-time since 2011.

She said: “When I was released from prison I had no family to help me and not very many friends.

“I was so glad to be released, but it felt like such a daunting prospect – I didn’t know where to start. I had nowhere to live and no one to turn to.

“My store manager let me live with her until I was able to transfer to a shop in Bury, where I knew a friend lived.

“I worked really hard and became manager there, but had to take time off because of post-traumatic stress disorder over my attack.

“They were really patient and understanding, and let me return to work in a less stressful position.

“I’ve been with them since 2010 and am so grateful for the support they’ve given me – they really helped me turn my life around and I’m supporting myself now.”

Bosses at the family-owned firm say they are proud to work with the Prison Service to give potential candidates a second chance. They now have 10pc of its workforce recruited directly from custodial sentences. Chief executive James Timpson, also chairs the Employers Forum for Reducing Reoffending.

Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, said: “The transition from prison to normal life is enormous.

“Without proper support, ex-offenders can easily find themselves turning back to a life of crime because they are struggling to find employment or adapt to life on the outside.

“Thanks to Timpson’s support, Sarah has worked hard to get back on her feet and restart her life. It’s an impressive achievement for which both Sarah and Timpson should be proud.”