My prison mentee has aspirations. Sam’s aspirations aren’t much different to you and me. He wants a safe and warm home, a job, is thinking of his retirement and wants the odd evening out down the pub or going to the cinema. What struck me on my second visit however, is how much he wants to put the past behind him.
He articulates that every intervention in prison (in his view not always necessarily) fixates on his past. Whether it’s mental health, education, free time or the gym, everyone is measuring every success against the backdrop of his identity as a criminal. And Sam is the first to take responsibility for his actions.
Understandably Sam wants to shed this as soon as possible and redefine himself. But without a job and a purpose, he’s struggling to find that identity.
He’s sees his baggage as a huge barrier to moving forward. As a mentor it is not my place to minimise just how significant that baggage is going to be. However I tried to re-frame it for him. I told him that I saw someone with life experience, huge resilience, courage, ambition, solutions and someone who was taking responsibility for his future. When Sam meets barriers he goes around them and just keeps going!