Trigger warning: This article contains emotive themes including mental health and suicide, alcoholism, and the care system.
As an Ingeus advisor providing education, training and employment support to people on probation, Craig believes that everyone deserves a second chance. Yet as someone with first-hand experience of the care system, alcoholism, a criminal conviction, and mental health problems that overwhelmed him, his own second chance nearly never came. Waking up in intensive care almost two months after a suicide attempt was the turning point to a new life and a new Ingeus career, for which he’s truly thankful.
“It’s been a story, it’s been eventful,” says Craig as he describes his troubled years. Placed suddenly into care at 15 and later facing homelessness, he still completed a science degree and began a career with the ambulance service. However, as the demands of his job triggered traumatic past memories, his drinking escalated, which he believes contributed to an arrest for actual bodily harm in 2020. With his mental health spiralling out of control, he saw only one way out and attempted to take his own life.
Waking in intensive care, Craig seized his second chance, took control of his demons, and completed his 24 month suspended sentence. Determined to use his own experiences to help others, he was referred to Ingeus in early 2023 and joined the peer mentor academy, which uses the power of shared experiences to reform and rehabilitate offenders.
“Being welcomed with open arms by Ingeus for that peer mentor programme was a level of acceptance that I have no words for,” says Craig. “I wanted to enter a career using my lived experience to benefit and inspire others.”
A successful Ingeus interview soon followed: “I’m here today as part of the team. It’s been an amazing role for my self-development and growth,” Craig adds.
“When a service user or individual on probation is sat in front of me and I’m guiding them, advising them… I truly do understand, not just on an empathetic level, but a sympathetic level because I’ve been there. I’ve felt all the emotions, the barriers, the prejudice, the judgement. I know exactly how they feel.
“I just want to say a huge thank you to Ingeus for that level of acceptance and thank you for giving me my life back.”
Watch Craig's story: