Michael's Story

Michael* resides at The Shrubbery, our care home in Kent, after twenty years in prison. We hope his story leaves you feeling inspired and it fuels your passion and belief in the importance of providing genuine care and support for people with convictions as they seek to transform their lives.

*Names and faces have been changed throughout this story in order to protect those under our care.

I’ve been at Langley for some months now and came here from the prison system. I was in prison for 23 years before coming here. It was a bit of shock… the first day especially. I had spent a long time inside. Someone from Langley had asked me before leaving what would be the first thing I’d do when I left prison… I said I’d go to the shop and get some wine gums, you know, because I can… Susan* [Michael’s Langley Keyworker] picked me up from prison and brought wine gums with her for me.

We stopped off at McDonalds – everything had changed… there were screens everywhere. I thought ‘what’s going on here?’. I got to my new home in Langley, saw my room… it was okay, but my head was still in prison, so it took a bit of getting used to.

There were so many things to sort out. I was in a state of shock and finding it really hard. I had to sort out things like my National Insurance Number, which I didn’t even know, my birth certificate, signing up for Universal Credit, etc. I suffered a brain injury in prison, so I get overloaded with things quickly if there’s too much information coming at me… that, and being away so long, I just didn’t know what was going on. Susan helped me and took me to places like the job centre, the doctor, etc.

It was really hard coming out and getting used to things, even like going to the shop. I wasn’t used to it and was a bit nervous – there are a lot of people around you don’t know. Susan would come with me to the shop or take me out for window shopping walks just to get me used to being around people. It’s given me confidence.

You talk to people and can just feel like they’re not comfortable. But Susan and the staff here, they’ve been really warm and friendly. It makes a big difference as you feel you can relax and be yourself.
A client and staff members talking outside in the sun

They [Langley Staff] are friendly people, so made me feel relaxed straight away. Some people you come into contact with, because you’re a prisoner, they may have heard things and might not mean it but can feel they’re sort of standoffish. Even now, when I go to the shop, some people stop and wait for me to pass… you sort of get used to it over the years as it’s happened since I was a kid, but you think ‘I’m no harm to you’. You talk to people and can just feel like they’re not comfortable. But Susan and the staff here, they’ve been really warm and friendly. It makes a big difference as you feel you can relax and be yourself.

Being at Langley has been the perfect place for me – I had ideas what I wanted to do, and this place has given me the chance to sort of ease into things, not just ‘bang’ you’re out – get on with it.

I want to mentor young people, who are getting into gangs and crime. Even if I can save just one of them – there is a lot of damage that one kid can cause, not just to himself but the whole area and families – I’d like to try and show them, because a lot of these kids think they’re adults but they’re kids. They’re groomed by this lifestyle that’s being pushed out to them, they think it’s all about cars, jewellery, money, girls… but I want to show them that it’s not that. What it is, is prison. You might get killed. mental health issues, drugs, violence…

I’ve seen drug dealers who have made money – but they’re not spending it now because they’re in prison. None of them want to be there, and they’re not coming out again. Sometimes it’s the ones who end up in prison who are the lucky ones; the others can end up dead. So, if I can reach these kids and let them know – it’s not a film, it’s not going to turn out how you think it is.

I’ve met a lot of ‘normal people’ who aren’t into anything like that [crime]. A lot of Christian people, who have helped me on my journey. I used to go to church in prison, but you come out and it sort of falls off… but I met the chaplain here and we do bible studies in the prayer room. I started going to church and it’s good because people actually come to say hello, and get used to seeing me.

It all feels fresh, like everything just looks like a fresh start.

I was happy I got sent here. I saw the lady who did my initial assessment a while after being here and thanked her for accepting me here and she said ‘we’ll always accept you’ – it’s an organisation that helps ex-offenders turn their lives around and it’s definitely that.

*Names and faces have been changed throughout this page in order to protect those under our care

Read more in Breakout

Read the full story and more in our latest edition of Breakout – Spring 2024. Breakout is the supporter magazine for Langley Trust.

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