'Moose' | 20 December 2017
I applied tentatively for funding through the PET and when that letter arrived, delivered from the hand of a smiling Governor no less, well it felt like a Royal Pardon.
PET funded ‘Moose’, 46, for a counselling course in 2015 and a NCTJ certificate in journalism in 2016, which he passed this year. He wrote to us care of the education department of his Category C prison.
I had been a passenger in my own life. I fell into things, from the jobs I worked to the social groups and relationships. I never made a conscious decision to pursue any sort of passion or career. I was just reacting to things.
When I came to prison I had time – too much time at the beginning. I was angry. I blamed everybody and everything else. I watched the clock; ticked days off the calendar. I planned and ruminated about what I would do when I got out.
When I moved prisons two things happened within a short space of time. First, I admitted that there was something wrong with my life. I reasoned that if I lived the same life when I was released I could expect a rapid return to prison. Second, I was required to complete English Functional skills and met a tutor who changed my life. She pushed me. She believed in me. She suggested that I challenge myself further and showed me the Prisoner’s Education Trust prospectus.
My initial instinct was to insulate myself from failure, to say “I don’t need that, what the hell good will it do me?” – but that little voice reminded me that something about my old life had to change. I applied tentatively for funding through the PET and when that letter arrived, delivered from the hand of a smiling Governor no less, well it felt like a Royal Pardon.
But then the course materials arrived and the responsibility kicked in. People believed in me, the PET were investing in me. I was determined to do my best, to not let them down. So far I have passed one exam and I’m waiting for the results of a second.
I have written numerous stories and articles while I have been studying and have won several awards, including a 2016 GOLD Koestler award. I am building quite an anthology of writing and growing in confidence every day.
However, the greatest gift that the PET has given me is time – time-pressure that is. Ironically, from feeling I had too much time on my hands I now can’t find enough hours in the day. Yes I committed a crime, yes I am doing a sentence and yes I deserve it. But I am using my time. I am no longer wasting years to go back out and repeat the same mistakes.
I am working my sentence – my sentence isn’t working me! I truly believe that I will be able to write my way out of prison.
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2021