Steven had a relatively late start as far as criminality was concerned but given his decline into alcoholism and drug addiction he feels it was inevitable that he would take some wrong turns.
Steven says: “It started normally, drinking with friends from work as you do. That started to escalate and I started smoking cannabis and taking ecstasy tablets at the weekend. I didn’t think anything would happen but within a couple of months I had developed a heroin habit, had lost my job and was only good for drugs.”
“With that came crime. Being an addict took me to places and situations I’d never have put myself in before but the desperation became my life. I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t stop. It all became normal.”
With Steven’s addiction and alcoholism came homelessness, crime, loss of family and friends and a change in lifestyle he’d never envisaged for himself. Then came prison.
Steven was given quite a long sentence for a serious crime but knew the root cause lay with his lifestyle and addiction so made enquiries about treatment and support whilst in prison. He started attending prison drug programs and engaging with support and treatment, having counselling and studying Buddhism along the way. He also wanted to work so applied for The Clink to try something different.
Steven was successful in his application and became a waiter at The Clink at HMP High Down.
Steven continues: “I’ve always been a painter and decorator, and probably always will be, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to try being myself with the public and not just part of a work crew where there can be a bit too much banter and I’m seen as one of the boys instead of myself. It was all part of maintaining a persona. The Clink let my own qualities and personality come out.”
“Working at The Clink opened my eyes to teamwork, working with the public but most of all being myself and gaining the confidence to do so. Working in a restaurant you have no choice but to face people, smile and be polite. There’s nowhere to hide. I realised that this had been an issue for me without even knowing.”
Steven now has independent accommodation, is maintaining his recovery and is back working as a painter and decorator with work booked up for the coming months. He may try something new afterwards but for now is focused on maintaining his stability. He says:
“I am grateful for what The Clink gave me in terms of training and support and know that in the future I have a second career to fall back on if I need it. Prison and The Clink gave me the focus and determination I needed to stay clean and start again. I never thought I would get a second chance and I have just that with a lot of support I have got what I think is a relatively ‘normal’ life – if there is any such thing.”