Aaron writes about the challenges of resettlement and his hopes for the future
My experience since being out of prison is that they just throw you out and just leave you, and they only step in when you mess up. They’ll then say they were there all along when they actually weren’t. I find they hold you back so you’re forced to bend to their rules. I think workers should do more follow-ups and be like a friend rather than acting like you’re a piece of paperwork.
What I wanted when I came out of prison was a place in college and a flat, but I had nothing and was put back with my parents, who I don’t get on with, but the rules are that I have to spend two nights out of the week there. I had lots of appointments that were nothing to do with my offence and it was up to me to get my placement at college. I can’t say I benefited from any of the resettlement offering. They never put me in college when I applied for Business Level 3; the worker phoned up and told them about my offence, which I thought was a bit of a piss-take because it was nothing to do with her.
I don’t feel I get any financial support either; they don’t tell you anything. I came out of prison with broken bones from fighting in there and the doctors just said I’d be fine. Five months down the line my injuries are still giving me trouble, but you’re just left to your own devices – except the times when you want to be left alone of course. No one tells you anything; they just say “here’s your worker, here’s your timetable, now don’t breach.”
I just want the support to be there to help me get on my feet and get my life back on track, because the first three months are the worst as you’re still in routine and in the prison habit, so you’re trying to find that routine. They should give you more of a helping hand with your housing, work and signing on. They don’t really ask you what you need, and if you tell them they just tell you they know more than you and that they’ve been doing their job for a long time. They seem to think more about the system, rather than the individual. Every person is different with their own personality and all we want is to live in a place that’s comfortable and safe – that’s all anyone wants from where they live.
Two people have really helped me: my old worker and Ricky from User Voice. Everyone else doesn’t really seem to help much. I could talk to my old worker as a friend because he’s been through it and he knows what the deal is. He visited me lots in prison and talked to me about general life, not just prison things. He helped me deal with things as best as possible and I trust him.
User Voice is different to a lot of YOTs because they know what it’s about. They haven’t come from a nice little posh lifestyle where youth work is just a job. People in User Voice are genuine people, rather than some YOT workers who see you as a dot in the system and expect to see you back inside.
I’m told I’ve had quite an influential role in User Voice, and through my involvement in events with the YJB and CRAE. I’m making a change – not just changing myself but helping change the system and other young people.
Where I grow up it’s like a big family and you’re helping young ones, friends’ brothers and sisters; it’s all about helping them take the right direction and do something with their lives.
My hopes for the future are to work for User Voice or to be a YOT worker, because I think it would be better to work within your community and provide a better service to them.
BIG UP USER VOICE!
Taken from Issue 19