[ Back ]
Service user helps develop services for others
20 October 2016
Peter – who was imprisoned for a burglary – came out a different person. He admits to not having been a particularly good person in the past and sees a successful programme he took part in as a tipping point where he started aiming towards a positive change.
Following the involvement in the Victims Awareness Course, Peter become a ‘listener’ during his time in prison. He also volunteered as a peer mentor for drug and alcohol abuse and was involved with the Council (User Voice) as an admin in the educational and training department.
On release from prison, his friend encouraged him to get involved with the Service User Council, which User Voice run with us.
And so he did. From all the support he received, Peter especially wishes to credit Suzanne Cragg (engagement team member at the Hastings Probation Office at the time) who got him involved with volunteering and let Peter shadow her.
His work progressed from there– from volunteering with expenses paid to being offered a paid position. ‘I worked one day a week and volunteered the rest. It then increased to two, then three days until I received the opportunity to work full time in July’.
Since Peter’s release from prison in October last year, he has been on probation with KSS CRC and says thanks to the great support of his current Probation Officer Jo Willis, who always helps with positive words of encouragement and his first Responsible Officer Lisa Harold, as she made Peter believe in himself.
When asked about his time with KSS CRC, he confidently says that it has helped his confidence and communications skills as well as increased his self- esteem by being able to ‘give back to society’. He hopes his work with service users will, in turn, help them to achieve the same.
After release, another system of support was his recovery based involvement with AA, where he believes the best thing was the honesty. ‘Everyone can be completely honest with each other, there is no need for lies’. In turn, Peter can be honest with his sponsees about the experiences he’s had and show he can relate to them.
It is the change that he can promote in the lives of people struggling with certain issues that make him wake up with a smile every day: ‘I go to work and I know that each day I can go that bit further to making a difference.’
Despite being a completely different person before, Peter committed to change and this has had positive repercussions. His relationships with others have improved tremendously. He is now a present father figure to his two children, and although he is no longer with his former partner, they get along. He says he has made his Mum, older sisters as well as his son proud with the positive changes he has achieved.
The burglary he committed is not something that can be reversed, but nevertheless Peter wishes to make amends and apologise for his past behaviour. He is taking part in restorative justice and has initiated a letter to his victim.
Undeniably, Peter is bursting with enthusiasm about his work and is incredibly pleased, but humble. He expresses gratitude towards the team he works with and his Manager for the ongoing support he is receiving and being able to use User Voice as a platform for his work.
Latest personal stories
A former drug addict has become a successful paid chef a year after his release from prison.
When I first met John*, he came across as being very shy and quiet. I attended an initial meeting where I met with John’s Probation Officer and we agreed actions and goals for him to take to help aid his rehabilitation and tackle the issues that have led him to commit the crime in the first place.
I was asked to work with Andrew* to help improve his self-esteem and decision making skills which led to his drug abuse. At our regular meetings, we explored solutions to his issues and obstacles to his future aspirations. Slowly through this work, his perceptions about himself began to change from feelings of guilty and helplessness, to being able to acknowledge his own personal strengths and attributes.