Sam has been out of prison a week. He called me this week and he’s bearing up. He is working hard and patiently to navigate a broken system.
Ever articulate, he described himself as ‘not ticking a box’. He can see support is available for every variable apart from a fifty-something lifer. He likened his experiences to being in an open prison. Yes he can come and go (within restricted hours), but at every turn his opportunities are thwarted by his identify as an ex-offender and a lack of support of impregnable services.
Services don’t appear to know how to help and even relevant professionals seem unable to identify the right local support available.
We chatted twice this week and he sent me two emails. One was an automated third party email from the housing authority. Like most who have spent 26 years in custody I expect, Sam is utterly bewildered by an impersonal automated email. It asks him to click on a link and create an account with a password. Something he’s never done before and that I talked him through.
I’ll tell you about his experiences with DWP next time.
You may be wondering about the image for this post? A former chef, Sam texted me this photo of a meal he cooked last week. He clearly enjoyed shopping and the variety of ingredients available in the shops delighted him. It met his complex dietary requirements and got him some kudos from guys he’s living with.