“I had had a few jobs though me life, they only lasted a few weeks, and I always got them through a friend or a cousin, I would know going into them it would be only a few weeks and I knew I could be done without, it didn’t really matter if I wasn’t there. The difference in me now from then is unbelievable, It seems a cliché, but it someone had told me 3 years ago I would be working, paying tax, going for a pint at the weekend after a week’s work I would have thought they were having a laugh I always wanted that, but really felt I would never be able to achieve that, having made so many mistakes and bad choices I thought that was it for me, and looking back I think I had resigned myself to being somebody that would end up in prison. I now call it the “roundabout” because that’s what it was like, when you are in addiction, you commit crimes, you go to jail then come out and the roundabout is waiting at the gate, whether you want to or not you find yourself back on it, and the cycle repeats.
I don’t believe anybody thinks when in prison, ”I am coming back here it’s great”, everyone leaves with the intention of not returning, regardless of what you read in the paper that says otherwise. When I first start working with the Gate TEO I thought “yeah, I want that change, although deep down I didn’t think it was possible for me, and like most things I had tried I wouldn’t stick at it or it would fail even if I did. I started the training and things seemed to snowball from there. I was sending CV’s and getting nothing back, I kept reminding myself of what the goal was, even when I felt this was pie in the sky, I got an interview and I made sure I was ready, I thought, well, if I don’t get this job, I cant blame meself for it, cause I had done everything the right way and was ready. Before I knew where I was I was working, I was getting up every morning going to work. I cant describe the way I felt, even getting on the bus in the morning, I was hoping people would speak to me so I could tell them “I’m on me way to work”. I felt they would look at me different and see me as “one of them”. I am tired every evening after work, but it’s a different kind of tiredness. When I used to be out chasing gear, I felt exhausted all the time. This tiredness is healthy. It brings a sense of achievement with it. I am not on a big wage, but in all honesty when I get paid every week, that few bob goes much further than any money I had that I didn’t earn, which went through my hands like water. Me family look at me differently, me kids even act differently around me know, they act differently towards me, they are no longer ashamed, and either am I. I will say now, I will never go back to that life.”
*Not clients’ real names