Supporting Change - from Custody to Community #PrisonWeek

Transitioning back into the community from prison can be a challenging experience. Our RDV service provides support for ex-service members who have been in custody or had contact with the criminal justice system. The service is funded by the Royal British Legion. #PrisonsWeek has provided an opportunity to reflect upon the work of RDV through 'Jack's' journey.

Jack (not his real name) first came into contact with Start360 when he attended a GP appointment in HMP Maghaberry. At the time our AD:EPT service were re-deployed to the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust due to Covid19 and were facilitating Primary Healthcare appointments. Following the appointment, Jack and AD:EPT had a chat where it was brought to light that he was due for release soon.

Jack had served in the British Army and had been medically discharged some years ago. During this time he got involved in drug/alcohol use and offending behaviour. He shared that he wanted to turn this around, focus on his recovery and work towards getting contact with his two sons back. Subsequently, he agreed to a referral to our RDV service so that he could avail of through-care support upon his release.

Jack engaged with RDV for a period of six months in the community. For a short period of time he was residing in a Belfast hostel and then he was offered his own tenancy elsewhere in Belfast. Things started to look up. At the beginning he mainly met with RDV through video-call and this progressed to face-to-face once restrictions eased and social distancing measures were put in place.

Through working with RDV Jack had some ups and some downs. He liaised with a social worker to start indirect contact with his children. This period of time was quite testing for Jack as he had got to a place where he felt he could be there for his children, build back his relationship with them and make up for lost time. There was no order in place whereby he could not see his sons, however, he aimed to do right by them and by everyone by going at their pace.

Transitioning from prison back into the community is a very testing time. It is a difficult transition for many and when dealing with addiction, the thought of using substances in order to de-stress, let go of worries, responsibilities and escape a very uncomfortable reality, can seem like a thought too tempting to resist. In saying this, Jack kept up a relationship with his RDV worker, talked through his frustrations, anger, sadness and even joy in all of what he was experiencing.

Through working with RDV Jack reflected on situations and decisions he was making and set goals for the weeks ahead. This was a safe space where Jack could reflect on the previous week and talk through any issues that he was experiencing.

Jack mentioned that having someone there who he could trust, who was outside of his family/social circle and who he felt had his best interests at heart, enabled him to open up and explore the possibility of a different future. One where he had his children, avoided custody and moved forward positively with his life.

Following the end of his engagement with RDV, Jack had started applying for employment, had in-person contact with his sons and was taking pride in his own flat.

Jack even reached out to let us know that through engaging with RDV he was able to avoid a custodial sentence for an outstanding charge that happened a couple of years ago. Through his determination, willingness to explore a different path and openness to support available, he now finds himself looking forward to the future, with a whole lot to look forward to.

Start360 are very proud of Jack and wish him the best for his amazing future.

For more information on RDV please click here.