Working with a Footprints Fresh Start Mentor helped Jack regain his confidence and re-connect with the community after his release from prison.

Jack was referred to The Footprints Project after his release from prison, where he had served half of a thirty-month sentence for sexual offences. He returned to a fairly stable background; he was financially secure and owned his own home, in a community he had been part of for most of his life, and where he had previously lived with his stepdaughter. His wife of 17 years had died some years before, while she was still relatively young.

It was clear that Jack needed emotional and personal support from a mentor, rather than practical help. While in prison he had been ostracized by his family and on the outside he found himself personally and socially isolated. He'd also been the victim of abuse as a young person and his relationship with his parents had been very fractured. Jack was willing to engage with his Footprints Fresh Start Mentor but had little hope for his future. He told how he lacked confidence in his ability to re-integrate into the community and was scared about the social isolation and exclusion that he felt might follow. 

His Footprints Fresh Start Mentor set about providing regular personal support to help Jack develop his confidence. He spent time with him, listened to his concerns and suggested ways in which his resilience and self-esteem might improve. Inspired by the gradualist approach of Buddhism, he helped Jack take very small steps back into social contact. He also gave him advice on decision-making, and forward-planning and helped him to deal with some of the formal documentation and procedures he had to address.

Progress was slow but gradually our mentor, who is a similar age to Jack, built a trusting relationship with Jack. He became increasingly open and honest about his previous difficulties and experiences and began to engage in the process. He made small improvements to his property, something that also improved his mental well-being and sense of purpose. Jack was still reluctant to involve himself too much in direct contact with others. Changes to the probation personnel dealing with him were difficult for him to manage, but he persevered with his programme at each change of officer and he received positive feedback from every agency he came into contact with. His relationship with his step-daughter was still occasionally quite fractious and he faced negative gossip from former friends and family. However, he dealt with it graciously and at his own cost, also began attending sessions with a psychotherapist.

Over time, Jack’s demeanor, self-awareness, confidence, and decision-making skills improved. Eventually, he found he was able to face the idea of volunteering after his Footprints mentor gave him a range of options. He was also able to understand the depths of the mental health problems his stepdaughter had faced, and their relationship improved.

Jack said: ‘I valued the emotional support the most. My mentor was extremely understanding and he helped tremendously. Footprints is a wonderful service and helped me get back to where I am today. Thank you.’