“In total I’ve been to prison about 6 times. A couple of other times when I’ve struggled to find somewhere to live I have had to sleep rough after release. I’ve also stayed in a tent for a few nights. It were horrible, it were summer but it were still cold, it were freezing. I felt like I had no purpose. I were getting up just to walk round all day, and the days felt like forever. I didn’t know what to do.
“Some people actually feel prison is a better alternative and do go back to committing crime, and to be honest I did too. I wanted to come back to prison otherwise I would have ended up in a worse situation. I needed prison because I was taking drugs and sofa surfing and I were committing crimes and it could’ve ended up a lot more serious. I ended up getting arrested because I wanted to, and I told court that I didn’t want to be released until I had got myself sorted out, I told them I need prison support.
“Some people do better in prison than they do outside. And that’s been me in some cases, most cases. I do well in prison, have a good record in prison and then out here it’s a completely different story. It’s weird, in prison you get a job and a routine and then out here you can’t get a job, you can see why people stay in prison.
“If I hadn’t had been a stronger person and without the support of Nacro this time round, I would have been back in prison by now, definitely, especially as they released me early, I would have gone straight back to stealing to take drugs.”
“I was terrified to leave prison because I was being forced to go to an Approved Premises where I would have to share a bathroom, kitchen and utensils, and other communal spaces with strangers, drug users and alcoholics. I was released during the pandemic, so the fear of people not social distancing felt like the ultimate punishment could be death.
“At the AP I was given a dirty room, an induction pack to sign for, and left alone. The toilets were full of human excrement and I found a dead rat in a bucket; no one was interested in helping. I was the most stressed I have ever been and I just didn’t know what to do.
“No one at the AP knew how to get in touch with my doctor, community mental health team or my Nacro worker, it was all left to me and I just didn’t know where to start.
“I was given a letter from the hostel with no explanation. I later got my dad to read it to me as I can not read or write. It was an immediate bed withdrawal notice. The hostel would not discuss this with us and threatened to have me arrested if I did not go away from the window. My Nacro worker called them but the manager of the AP was busy and so they said they could not do anything.
“The next day the police came at 6am and arrested me.
“Release from prison is not always good, or something to celebrate for most people. It is absolutely terrifying, especially for those that are being released as homeless and not knowing where to go, how you will get money or benefits, IF or WHEN you will next eat or shower.
“Help us to help ourselves.“