“When I first got raided I was still living at my parents’ home. They had no idea until then: they kicked me out, and when I was in jail, they didn’t visit. My sister called once. I understand. Nobody in my family even smokes. They disagree with how I was living my life.
My friends and I sorta just slid into this, made the wrong choices. I used to think ‘I’m in jail for drugs, I don’t have victims.’ But then I did victim awareness courses and I realised there’s always a victim: my parents are victims. The people I’m selling drugs to are victims. Their families. Even I’m a victim, in a way.
At first the only reason I talked to Switchback was because it meant I could get out my cell. But my Switchback Mentor came back every week, explaining what Switchback do, how you can work with them to get back into the system and adjust. And every time I spoke to her I felt a bit good, and since I’ve been out I’ve come in every week: I do my action plans, focus on what I’m trying to do — getting my certificate to move into construction and plumbing, they’ve been working on my CV, supporting me with my travel, food vouchers.
I don’t think a lot of people realise how much it helps. Even getting work experience as a kitchen assistant in the caff, I loved it. It was something totally new.
And without the vouchers and the Oyster card I don’t really know what I’d be doing right now. Just to know I’ve got those things: it’s good enough.
And instead of coming out and being stuck at home not doing nothing, I have a routine: I’m up every morning, coming here, slowly getting used to being out and doing what normal people do. And you know what? I’m grateful for that.
When I first came out I was trying to stay positive but I was stressed. I was homeless so I couldn’t open a bank account or register for benefits. I just felt like I wanted to give up, and it got to the point that I started thinking about my old lifestyle.
”Instead of being stuck at home not doing nothing, I have a routine: I’m up every morning, coming to Switchback, slowly getting used to being out.
But when you come out of prison Switchback do everything they can just to help have a normal life back. My Mentor told me to stay focussed on everything around the table: don’t just wait on one thing, just keep it moving. Anything’s possible, anything can happen at any time, just keep busy. And that’s been good: I can see that my qualifications are okay, I have financial problems but I feel like I can deal with that in time. I’m just trying to stay positive and push through.
There’s money in dealing drugs, but it just don’t last long and the consequences and the risks that come with it? Not worth it. I’d rather work with my hands, enjoy life, be able to do things.
So yeah, I’m just trying to be positive. I’m going to have hurdles and setbacks but I’m just going to go with it and hopefully I’ll get through it. That’s what I’ve got to do. Switchback have definitely been the right people to help me.”