My journey of transition unwittingly began as I lay face down at the banking of the Thames surrounded by a group of armed officers after having failed miserably in my bid to evade capture after a 5 hour armed siege.
What then ensued was a series of hearings to determine my plea of guilt which thankfully, owing to the overwhelming forensic evidence linking me to the firearm, saved me from the humiliation I would have had to endure had I have opted for a trial.
However, what followed had been far less palatable, a specified period of 15 years under the then quite novel IPP ruling which at the time had been the largest single term of its kind.
Prior to that point my life had been one of conflict with society where I tended to orbit in an environment outside of society’s realm as opposed to wanting to assimilate with it.
However, I was now faced with having the monumental task of ploughing my way through what in effect was the equivalent of a 30 year sentence.
Thankfully I had the presence of mind to utlilise my time as productively as the system would allow and began using education as a means of liberating myself out of my previous lifestyle choice.
I began by studying law, receiving a distinction in Prison and Human Rights Law and for the first time began to see the role which parliament had set out for what law was to achieve and strangely began to develop a slow but meaningful respect for it.
Add to this a couple of NVQ level 3 qualifications in counselling coupled with the beginnings of a journalism diploma, which sadly I had been unable to finish, I was now faced with a whole new proposition.
As a result of the new found understanding I had of law I launched my own appeal had my sentenced reduced by half and significantly lowered my risk to a point where after 7 years I was now manageable in open conditions.
During this period I began volunteering at Unlock, and within weeks of me being there I attended The House of Lords as part of the drive to launch Unlock’s online disclosure calculator.
This really impacted upon me and was the beginning of the broadening of my social landscape as it was under the auspices of Unlock that I really began to develop as I was now privy to all sorts of interesting third sector and criminal justice news which would simultaneously stimulate, inspire and at times appall me.
Having said this what it did provide me with was the rumblings of my very first remit statement for an initiative that I went on to launch. Thankfully my altruistic fervor hasn’t suffered as a result of the hard work I have had to endure being a small practitioner in a landscape which overwhelmingly favours the primes. In fact quite the opposite.
I think If there is a lesson I could impart from my own experience of change it would certainly be my new found understanding that you never truly fail until you quit.