Sentenced to 5 years and 9 months for Supply class A & Money Laundering meant that I was to spend nearly 3 years in prison & pretty much lose everything.
I was finally released from HMP Guys Marsh in Jan 2019 at 0930 on a Friday morning with just a carrier bag of belongings and very little money. But really, I had more than I had had in many years because I was drug free, healthy & at peace with myself.
Being in prison taught me a lot about the things I had taken for granted all my life and how the things that I thought were important weren’t and vice versa. It gave me a second chance at life. I was very lucky & blessed to be accepted for accommodation in a new town with new people and new opportunities but it would be a lot of hard work just to become a citizen again; registering with a Doctor; registering with a dentist; filling out forms for housing benefit; filling out forms for Universal Credit; opening an e-mail account and get a new phone! It is an endless list of practical things each as important as the next. Oh, and I almost forgot about Probation- the most important priority for anyone leaving prison with a licence. We have to attend and jump through the hoops but really, all we have to do is communicate and build a relationship with our supervising officer. The rest should fall into place.
All this can be overwhelming and confusing and hard but there are people that can help us make it easier. I went to my local community church and introduced myself and now I am a volunteer there which has been a really great way to meet people (good people) and fill my time with positive things.
Having a daily structure is important and I try not to take things for granted. Having people around me that will hold me accountable and challenge me on things has been key. Just a few weeks ago I found myself at a cross roads where a simple wrong decision lead to me taking drugs and putting everything at risk. This both surprised and scared me as I thought I was strong, but it is a reminder that I cannot do it alone.
Going to prison was a positive experience that taught me a lot but it is not an experience I would like to repeat. We have to be honest and we have to be aware of the consequences of a simple wrong decision. It is hard and can sometimes seem impossible but I was lucky to have caring people around us, endless opportunities to do good and to be what we want to be and do the things we dreamed of. We are rehabilitated and most importantly- WE ARE FREE…!!!!