I left prison in January 2016. I had been in care since the age of 7 and I was drinking a lot and getting into trouble. I felt like nothing when I was a kid, that I’d never amount to anything. No hope, no future, nothing.
After prison, I wanted to be someone, to put some meaning back in my life. I wanted to feel more positive about myself and to achieve something. So I went to Mustard Tree and they have helped me so much. Being part of a community has helped me to be more approachable and people can talk to me now. Having a job to do in the shop makes me feel productive, and that I can achieve things.
I have also been going to their free counselling service which has helped me to talk about things that I hardly ever mention, stuff from my past. Talking it through has put my mind much more at ease.
Now I am looking more towards the future rather than just living day by day. I’m no longer a heavy drinker – I was using drink as a coping mechanism, but no longer feel that I need to do that. I have had positive feedback from people at Mustard Tree and from my probation officer. My family members can also see a change. I’m closer to them now, and I’m a much more positive person.
Previously I felt that whatever I did would go wrong, so there was no point even trying. I no longer think like that. I’m optimistic about getting a job, either short-term or permanent.
I’m also hoping to get a new place to live where I can start afresh and keep building stronger bonds with my family. I intend to keep speaking more openly to the people I’m close to about how I’m doing, rather than just putting on a brave face like I learned to do in care.
*To protect John’s identity, his name has been changed and a photograph has been posed by an actor.