Male lifeline: “There has been no love in my life until now. My life has been full of explosions and darkness.”

Ryan arrived on this programme as part of our work in partnership with RAPt (now The Forward Trust) at HMP Wandsworth. He had yet to start the RAPt 12 step programme but had been asked to attend this course by his keyworker.

On first arriving Ryan was very resistant: ‘Is this course about God? I’m terrified if it’s going to be about God, I’m not going to stay if it is’.

He proceeded to tear up the pre-assessment form required by prison staff and said ‘this is just another tick boxing exercise’. However, Ryan also stated that he needed to do whatever course was available, as he wanted to change and on this premise was prepared to stay for the first session.

Ryan listened intensely to the first speaker’s story of childhood abuse and became very engaged and animated, sharing his insight and reflections with the group. He became emotional as he shared how he saw the victim’s perpetrator, as ‘a man who has harm inside himself.’ He questioned the speaker at length about her coping strategies and commented on how he needed to focus on his own self-care before any change could take place.

At the close of the session, he reflected that he now saw forgiveness as: ‘… a fluid cycle that changes all the time … the same cycle as grief, a circle that goes round and round and has no end point.’ He left this session with a friendly handshake and thanks.

Ryan arrival on Day 2 was noticeably different. He was warm, welcomed the team and shared how much he was looking forward to the day. At the group check-in he announced ‘this course is for me’ and shared how he had wanted to tell his cell mate the speaker’s story but said, ‘it’s a real privilege to hear your story and I didn’t want to betray that feeling’.

There was also a noticeable shift in his behaviour as he listened to the Peter Woolf’s story (an ex-offender) and particularly toward his peers. As one peer shared reflections of how he had harmed his family and wanted to repair these relationships, Ryan said,

I have always seen you as someone on the wing that I haven’t liked and felt conflict toward but now I see you very differently.

During the lifelines exercise he spent an hour drawing pictures with pastels to represent his life and engaged in a long discussion with facilitators. As his peers began sharing their lifelines, Ryan offered his support and showed them respect as they described their shifts in thinking and desire to make change. At the end of this day Ryan said, ‘What’s nice about this course is the showing of vulnerability and integrity. In here (prison) no one is able to show their vulnerability’.

On Day 3, Ryan arrived describing the room and group as a ‘safe place’ like no other. He shared how much this was needed and said, ‘This course is win-win because we all gain out of it’.

Ryan demonstrated in his writings and contributions to the group that he was a man who deeply cared for his peers, the team and for his own life struggles. He expressed his emotions openly and commended others for having the courage to share. To one man who was struggling to see himself as a courageous human being, he said, ‘You are a lovely man, and now I have heard your lifeline I have real respect for you’.

By the end of this course Ryan stated to the team, ‘your sincerity is what’s got me sold’. With this he completed the post assessment form handed out by the prison staff team.

A week after the course Ryan sent a long letter to the team, writing:

Almost every day since, at some point my mind will wander back to those 3 days and I further process it. And you know what almost every time it gives me a little bit more hope, I draw a little more strength and gain confidence in the choices I now make.

‘Fear, like with so much in the world, has bought and caused me grief in my life…. I am scared because chains of my past still feel tight on my ankles … then I’ll remember something like when you said ‘We all as human beings have the basic same needs, desires and fears’…. So I go on to think then more of us can relate than oppose and if that’s the case, when I put the right foot in front of the other, make good decisions, a day at a time, step by step… then surely…. Good things will come my way…..

‘I just wanna thank you and if we never meet again please know you will always be my dear friends coz you bought me hope, faith and trust.’

Get in touch

If you would like to learn and discover more about RESTORE, enquire how RESTORE can work in partnership with yourselves or begin a strategic process of planning to deliver RESTORE within your settings, please do get in touch via our RESTORE Programme Manager