I was 18 when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I began taking drugs and drinking alcohol, which made me feel more confident and able to speak to people. When I could not get alcohol I started stealing it from shops and was sent to prison.
I was released on a Friday and was shortly arrested and returned to prison after stealing alcohol again. I was, again, released on a Friday but was sent back in for being drunk and disorderly. On both occasions of my release, there wasn’t much support put in place despite my problems – all of which were made worse by being released on a Friday.
While still in prison, I was referred to the new Nacro Housing First project. Once again I was released on a Friday but this time was taken to temporary accommodation where I met my Nacro support worker. I have now been supported to move away from this cycle.
I’m grateful to Nacro and Steve, Carl’s support worker, for meeting him on the last Friday he was released and supporting him. But because he was released on a Friday, it was then immediately the weekend, which means most support services were unavailable (including substance misuse) and this is detrimental to my son’s wellbeing as someone with Asperger’s and addiction problems.
On his final release day, he had lost his confidence and he was unable to get on the train to go to his temporary accommodation due to a panic attack. Once he eventually got there, he couldn’t leave his room for quite a while due to anxiety, and because it was the weekend, no one could support him. If he was released in the week or on a Monday, he would have a whole week of support. For many, the support they receive throughout the week is vital to them moving on, especially in the challenging times of a pandemic.