Aged 52, Dougie was discharged from prison on licence. Since the age of 14 he had been in and out of custody, clocking up a total of almost 20 years of time. We started working with Dougie early on, giving him space to talk through his concerns, think through plans and share his frustrations. We also supported him to attend some hospital appointments for scans, helping him to work through his anxieties.
Dougie desperately wanted to visit his son and granddaughter who live hundreds of miles away, and after a few months, the Probation Service agreed for him to visit, so we helped him to sort out his rail tickets. He was delighted to meet his 3-year-old granddaughter for the first time, but devastated to find that his son had no time for him. Things got worse when the Police turned up and arrested him for breach of the peace, at the instigation of his family members. After a few nights in a police cell, he was bailed back to Devon to await trial.
One step at a time
Facing the prospect of a return to prison, and rejected by his family, Dougie’s immediate reaction was to ‘fight the system’ as he had always done. His mentor gently encouraged him to take things one step at a time, and attend the hearing so that he could give his side of the case, and comply with everything he was required to do. As a result, the case was found ‘not proven’ and he was able to return to Devon a free man.
Dougie’s disappointment and hurt at how his family treated him are worse, he says, than all the physical scars that he carries. But he has been able to talk about things with his SWCC mentor and gain some understanding and closure, as sadly there’s little possibility of reconciliation with his family.
Feeling positive about the future
Recently, Dougie moved into long term private rented accommodation and he is working for the first time in his life. He is a welcomer at CoLab in Exeter, where SWCC is based. He serves coffee and introduces people to the opportunities to be had in life by staying clean and sober. He also works one afternoon a week at the Exeter Community Centre garden. He has finished his licence and, for the first time, he can now settle into everyday life.
Dougie says, “Thank you for all your help…you took the time to get to know me and listened to the good and the bad in equal measure, and never once judged me. That in itself is unique as people normally just judge me on a terrible past and what they’ve read. Thanks for everything.”