Karl takes the 'write' path to support others
11 Apr 2023
Serving a prison sentence in 2021, writing became a lifeline as well as a hobby for Karl. Now released, the 49-year-old’s starting a new chapter in his life. He’s not only published his first book, but is also becoming a CRS volunteer peer mentor for Ingeus – supporting and inspiring others who are going through the justice system.
Ingeus works with the probation service and charity partners to deliver Commissioned Rehabilitative Services (CRS), helping ex-offenders reintegrate into their communities. Support ranges from personal wellbeing to accessing education, training and employment.
Karl, who now lives in Staffordshire, was introduced to CRS’s peer mentoring scheme by his probation officer, Ava.
“It’s a huge thing to come out of prison,” says Karl. “If I can give someone else the same kind of support that I received then I’ll be happy. I get pleasure out of helping people and it’s about using my lived experience to support them fully.”
Karl retired from teaching after 18 years in 2016 due to mental ill health. In 2019 he attempted suicide and just 19 months later he was sentenced to a year in prison.
Moving between three prisons during that time, his love of writing flourished in HMP Oakwood. With encouragement from Ava, he has since self-published his own book, and been awarded a commendation with the Koestler Arts Awards.
He explains, “Everything feels like it’s just fitted into place. Ava mentioned Ingeus and peer mentoring to me and at the same time I published my book, ‘A Short Sentence’.
“Writing is like my self-care, and while I was in prison I shared my poems with some of the other lads and they said reading them really helped them too. It was so rewarding to know I was helping others. And now they’re published, I sit and read some of the reviews online when I’m having a not-so-good day and it lifts me to know my poetry is making a positive difference to even more people.”
As a peer mentor, Karl will work with ex-offenders just released from prison. He completed his training in December with Jade Taylor, Peer Mentor Lead, and hopes he will be supporting individuals with their mental health. He’s particularly looking forward to leading ‘Hope and Transition’ sessions.
“Everything in life is about hope and transition,” explains Karl. “I didn’t like me before I went to prison. I’ve had to accept that I made a mistake and give myself permission to move on.
“Through peer mentoring I will give the time and listening ear that people need. I will be non-judgemental and non-confrontational, supporting people as they transition in their lives.
“You can’t know the pain anyone else goes through, but I needed people to support me. Now it’s my turn to give that help to others.”