“My mother got a brain haemorrhage and died suddenly when I was eleven. I started going a bit mad… I didn’t know how to handle losing her. I got involved with the wrong crowd and I started having issues in school too. I was convinced that I was dyslexic. I was always kept back in class to finish up the rest of my work because I could never read or spell properly… Eventually, I was sent to a school for destructive kids and they tried to teach me there too but I could never finish a book. I was sixteen when I got sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison. I used to go to the school in prison and there was a teacher there… The art teacher! I had a crush on her… One day, I had a book in my hand, it was called Jackie loves Johnson. I don’t know why I had it in my hand but she saw it and asked me about it and I told her that I’d only just picked it up. She asked me to let her know how it was when I finished. I just really wanted to have a conversation with her, so I took the book to my cell and I must have tried to read it about 50-60 times before I got the gist of it. After that, she started bringing me all sorts of books. There was nothing better to do in the prison, so I spent my days reading and by the time I turned eighteen, I was reading big books like Shantaram and Papillon and writing and spelling just came with it. I’ve loved reading ever since. I’m on a Pathways Programme at the moment… I’m hoping to start college next year. I would like to do a youth work course to work with kids that had to go through what I’ve been through. I would like to be someone they can talk to, someone who knows how it feels… I could use my experience and turn it into something meaningful.”
This post was highlighted by Ana Liffey Drug Project and the North East Inner City Programme Office.