My story begins with a difficult childhood. My parents divorced when I was five and my Mum was left to look after five children. Then came the step-dad who was a violent alcoholic and terrorised us all for many years.
As I grew older, I continued to suppress my inner thoughts and emotions to pretend I was someone I wasn’t. I began to drink alcohol excessively to feel something other than fear, anxiety and stress.
At this time I looked successful to everyone else – I had a wife, child, house and good job. But I was a mess inside. When it all got too much, I threw in the towel. I took up drugs in addition to alcohol and eventually ended up in prison convicted of armed robbery in 2011.
My first experience with Holyoake was in 2012 when I was offered a place in a prison program called Pathways. I put everything I had into it because what they presented made sense. I began to realise the effects of my childhood trauma for the first time.
My Counsellor allowed me to see the real me, a person with thoughts and feelings of my own. I now have hope and a true sense of direction. After my release from prison, I was encouraged to continue my counselling at Holyoake which has really helped.
The experience has been life-saving and life-changing. I now believe that I am a man who is seeing the world through different eyes. I feel free.