Stories cover image


We go into prison and on to the streets, showing people that they matter and they're not alone.

Dean’s Story

bags cover image

Dean lives in an ACT house and came on our recent retreat. This is what he has to say about what life has been like for him since coming to Oxford:

'I used to be into drugs – a dealer and an addict. I was in and out of rehab a lot. Even when I was inside I could get hold of drugs. I would get some on my day out, take as much as possible, then head to the gym to work them out of my system so they wouldn’t show up on the weekly tests. Because of my addiction my relationship with my partner broke down.

I took up cage fighting and boxing, and after a while I was bare knuckle fighting to pay for my habit. I carried a weapon around with me and ended up stabbing a guy. I narrowly avoided prison but things were spiralling out of control. I didn’t care if I lived or died. I didn’t want to face reality and I was constantly in trouble with the police.

My family didn’t know what to do with me. They packed me off to stay with my uncle in Oxford. He took me along to church and introduced me to ACT. I didn’t like it and wanted to leave. But I went back a second time and it hit me – in a good way. I started to go regularly and soon I was offered a place in an ACT house. Things started to change…

Over the last few months it’s been like I’ve got a new heart. I’ve loved worshipping God and feel closer to him through church. Church now feels like a family.

I went on the retreat and loved it. We played football, went swimming, hung out round a campfire. One evening I stayed up most of the night talking with a friend about the difference God can make. Thinking about the way I treated my family and friends before, I realised I was like a beast.

Now I want to be different. I want to be a man.'

Paul’s Story

IMG 5196-CP-Mike-Kent cover image

'I came from a home where there wasn’t much love and I didn’t have a real childhood. I was often locked in the coal shed, but at least that was a safe place because my father couldn’t beat me there.

I learned never to cry, even later on when I was in the army and saw my mates die in combat. I ended up doing a life sentence for violent crime. Years later when I was told that my father and then my mother had died, I didn’t care.

In Bullingdon prison I started to come to the chapel, not because I was looking for God, but because I wanted to play the guitar. When I first came to the ACT Alpha course I was closed down and didn’t want anyone to come too near. I felt as if I didn’t belong there, but people prayed for me.

Then in my cell while I was writing some music out I heard the words, ‘Don’t stay on the outside, step right in.’ I had a sense of God being with me that I can’t describe. The next time I came into the chapel I knew I belonged to a family.

My faith means I talk to Jesus constantly. All the things I missed as a child, like playing and running in meadows, he has let me experience with him. I got baptised in the chapel and started to feel really emotional and went back to my cell and cried and cried. I feel that he is repairing the broken pieces and I am filled with love.'

Bob’s Story

cold-snow-person-winter cover image

'I was in HMP Bullingdon serving a sentence for armed robbery when I first heard of ACT. I was fearful about being released from prison and falling back into active addiction which is what had led to me being locked up. I was feeling hopeless, but I decided to contact ACT and a few days before my release Rob came to visit me. This gave me my first sign of hope.

Meeting up with him on the day of release was amazing. Prison for me was a hostile and desensitising environment. To be greeted by someone at the gate reminded me there was still warmth, love and hope out there. Rob accompanied me to my appointments which really helped me feel less anxious.

We arranged to meet once a week while I was staying at an approved premises. I quickly found out that I could trust Rob and we got on really well. He introduced me to the wider ACT community. We also started running together and working on the allotment – we've just completed a couple of landscaping projects.

I started to feel more confident and began to volunteer in the kitchen helping out on a Monday night and serving at the staff lunch. My days started to take on structure. This has really helped me feel valued and given me a sense of belonging to a community that feels more like a family. I am now feeling hopeful and looking forward to the next chapter of my life.

Tom’s Story

IMG 6733 cover image

Tom has spent his entire life in some form of institution – when he was brought along to ACT by a friend, the longest he had ever spent out of prison was six months. Recently released from Bullingdon prison, he was sleeping rough in Oxford. At first he was very wary of us but as he joined the community and participated in our activities, we gradually gained his trust. We were able to offer him a place in an ACT house. This was a significant adjustment for Tom and there have been ups and downs. But it has been a pleasure to journey alongside him as he begins to experience a sense of ‘home’ with us.

'I’ve been supported by ACT for around four years now and they have always been good to me – in more ways than they probably know. If ever I’ve had a problem they have been there to help me resolve it. Through ACT housing I have a key worker who is always trying to do the best she can for me. The whole ACT team is more like a family than an organisation to me. I am very grateful for the help and guidance ACT have shown me. They really do care, which is surprising in this day and age.'

Jack’s Story

IMG 5206 cover image

Jack had been in prison for a year, and was living in our local approved premises (or bail hostel) when we met him. Prison had been a new experience for him, and left him shocked and lost on release. The hostel staff referred him to ACT, and he has now been living in an ACT house for six months. Having a residential address has enabled him to apply for jobs, and he now works locally in a well-known restaurant.

'I was introduced to ACT while at the bail hostel and started having weekly conversations with Rob, who explained what ACT was all about. He suggested doing some volunteer work in the kitchen – I did so and have been doing it ever since, as well as attending the Monday evening meetings.

After having a coffee one day with Rob I told him all about not being able to find housing because of being in prison. That’s when he told me about ACT housing. The feeling I had when I was told I would be housed was like a new lease of life – an enormous weight off my mind and it totally restored my faith in God.

I share a lovely house with one other person. We have our own space which is important. I feel extremely lucky to be living here and be part of ACT. It makes you feel like you are part of one big happy family. Without their help and continual support I would not have made the enormous steps of advancement that I have achieved since moving here.'

Contact ACT

40 Pembroke Street
01865 254800

Stay Informed