Before ACT, my life was run on self-will. God was around me, but I wasn’t open to him. I was using illicit drugs, a long-term relationship broke down and I became homeless.
Then I went to jail.
The first time I came out I ended up rough sleeping and five days later I was using again – then back in jail.
I got to know ACT's prisons pastor, Susan, and outreach & mentoring manager, Rob. So when I was coming up to release again I wrote to ask for support.
Rob came to pick me up at the gate the day I got out. We went for a cheeky McDonalds – it tasted so good after prison food. I was so nervous coming out, so seeing a familiar face massively helped.
We had a good chat about the days ahead on the journey to Oxford. ACT were great at liaising with my probation officer and my family – there was lots of communication.
A home of my own
Moving into a supported house made a big difference. The team were there for me – Jemma (ACT's housing manager) met with me on Mondays, on Wednesdays I’d go to the ACT family breakfast, on Thursdays a group of us would go do gardening work. Spending time positively like this really helped, and so did seeing people at different stages of recovery, journey and faith. I could see how much people changed if they really wanted to.
There have been lots of transformations. I’ve seen people who were addicts using less and less, and getting clean. I’ve seen people choosing not to commit crimes any more. I’ve seen people really change.
One thing that helped me a lot was not being rushed to move out. I could talk to people who know me, pray with them and look for discernment. There’s so much support behind the scenes that no one else would ever know about.
Moving out, moving on
I moved on from an ACT house last year. It’s not an easy time for anyone because of the pandemic. But ACT have been brilliant. Even though I’ve moved out I’m still 100% supported. I know if I’ve got a problem I can phone someone and we’ll get a coffee. The door’s not closed on me.
I set up my own business seven months ago, and ACT really helped me. I’ve done something similar before but this time it’s all done right – business accounts, money for the tax bill. I know good comes from that. I’ve taken on two lads and we’ve got four months’ work booked in. It’s beautiful to have a full diary like that. Some of it's my doing, but ultimately it's God.
It’s mad how things have changed.
Life is really good.