Jim is currently serving his sentence in Brixton Prison in South London. At the time of his interview Jim had just been informed he would be released from Prison in a couple of weeks.
What made you join the CFO3 programme?
Before I started the programme I had the trauma of my mum dying and I felt bad for over a year. The CFO3 provided me with someone to listen me when I was in a dark place. They gave me a light at the end of the tunnel. The Staff support and encouraged me to get qualifications. They helped me out. When I had my induction into the prison I met Anoushka. She told me about the CFO3 programme and I was interested.
My problem was I was a proud man. I was too shy to ask for help, but eventually I did. The amount support I received – no words can explain it! Shortly I will be released and I know I will be getting more support outside.
What activities have you undertaken to help you return to work?
I’ve completed a business studies course over six weeks. Six different companies came in and taught me the skills I would need when I leave prison. They taught me how to set up my own business and how to market it. Now my ambition is to open a food shop and catering business. I want to call it ‘Uncle Jim’s’.
I also gained skills in construction including a Diploma in Construction and can go on to do further training.
What other aspects of the programme have you enjoyed?
CFO3 helped me get a good CV together. There was an employment fair on site at the prison and I prepared for this by attending a CV workshop. After the job fair, I had two companies interested in employing me. I’ve also got connections with Bounce Back (a Charity and a Social Enterprise focussed on training and employment) and when I go back into the community, I will work with Probation and the workers from CFO3 for as long as I need support. When I leave prison, CFO3 will help me to sign on with Job Centre Plus, as I will need income straight away.
I think a lot of men are afraid ask for help. Men are set up to be leaders – the lion. But I have used the wisdom I have learnt on the programme and I now I know where to go to for help. My confidence is better and I want to achieve my goals, many goals. I feel that there is support all around me.
My CV is now online and I have ten different opportunities. I didn’t believe so many people would be so impressed. Now that I have put in the effort, this is what I have gained. I’m enjoying it!
What other support did you receive on the programme?
I got help with my longstanding housing issue and Anoushka managed to save my flat. She kept me active, rather than let me just sit there worrying. I cannot put into words the help I have received just with this issue alone and I give God thanks for it. Anoushka sent lots of letter to the housing office and my solicitors and came with me to court. If it wasn’t for her help, I would have lost the flat.
The programme gives such good support - much better than any I’ve received in prison. I’ve been put on a platform to get success, so I won’t return to prison.
How else did the staff help you?
They gave me encouragement. You are pushed by staff to accept that education and training are good things to do, which is why I did my construction course. The prison is good at helping people focus on employment. There are opportunities in IT, music technology, construction and sewing. You learn about health and hygiene and health and safety. Now I’m saying “I’m skilled, now give me something.”
What are your hopes for the future?
I’ve got some opportunities for construction and catering so I need to find out which of these I really love. I want to progress over the next two years, purchase my flat, and start a family. I’ve now got a stable structure put in place and I need to take actions.
The staff never just spoke to me as staff members and CFO3 has provided the best opportunity. I have a smile on my face. I want to make the transformation. I am a man of the future. I want to give back.
I’ve learnt steps that will transform to bigger goals. It’s been a journey, coming to prison, how I felt about my mum’s death. Now I’ve got encouragement and I give thanks for this. I realise only I can get myself where I want to be. Now I’m in a position to succeed.
I was flat on my face. But now I’m walking on my feet again.