Turning my life around

Prison was a wakeup call for me. I had been to jail previously but this time it really hit me. Prison has stages YOI 15-18, 18-21 and 21 and up. I was at the last stage of prison, and I witnessed how life could be if I didn’t get it together. I saw grown men missing their family, lifers suffering and thought to myself this could not be a path for me to head down. I had already grown up in prison and didn’t want to waste any more time. I became less social and started to care more about myself. Before I wouldn’t think twice and get involved in others people’s situations that would land me in trouble, but later on I stuck to myself. Toward the end of my sentence I did multiple courses, went to the gym and read self-help books till release.

Probation referred me to Only Connect and I was open to accept help to better myself. I believe being open is key, you never know where you could end up or how far you could get if you’re not open and willing.

 At Only Connect, my Case Manager, Lisa, referred me to see course instructors to help better my skills based on what I wanted to do. At the time I was keen to work and wanted any opportunity to work. I heard about a PTS course that would employ you when you finished it and Lisa referred me. I had an interview but I didn't hear back from them, it was a long process and left me in a space of no hope. I thought how can I not get on a course that everyone seems to be getting on and employed. This was one of the things which Lisa had explained to me, that you really have to put yourself out there and don't take no for an answer.

Lisa and I brainstormed on my next step. I attended a course on personal development eager to put my skills to the test, attended meetings with a social enterprise supporting start-ups, Launch 22, and a website builder and architect. I was thinking out of the box trying to figure out what my new hobbies could be to have fun and make a profession out of it. Sadly, I had not spent many of my teenage years doing what other teenagers did for fun so I thought it would be a good idea to explore and give things a try.

What’s the worst that could happen?!

After a few meetings with OC, Launch and the guys it sparked an interest to tap into a creative side I never knew I had. Seeing building and art from a creative point and the question was how could I get involved in it. I crowdfunded the money to do an auto CAD course getting to know the software which architects use I enjoyed it and applied to do architecture course in University.

So, what has Only Connect done for me?

  1. The right push in confidence to break the mental barrier of thinking you can only be a certain way 

  2. Course referrals

  3. CV and cover letter help

  4. Typing course to help me brush up on my typing skills

  5. Job interviews

  6. Driving license referrals

 *Editor’s Comment - Charles has been wonderful to work with and has shown us all here at Only Connect what you can do to turn your life around. He is now running a successful plumbing business and is going from strength to strength.

Franesca Haigh