Bobby talks about being “institutionalised”, with a history of repeated (non-violent) offending to fund his substance use, and time in prison.
However, he has been out of prison for two years – the longest he has “stayed out of trouble” – and after a recent fallout with a family member, Bobby had nowhere to stay. On license with Probation, they put him in touch with VOICES. At the time of interview, Bobby had been with VOICES for 3-4 months. He explains that he had previously never been out of prison long enough to meaningfully engage with services, other than Probation (and he does talk about his IOM worker helping him).
As Bobby was new to VOICES, we were unable to include service data for him here. Regardless of the short time though, he stressed how important their help has been:
“I haven’t been on here a long time, but from working with VOICES, I think they have done a lot for me in a short amount of time. I wouldn’t survive, yes.”
Bobby talks about receiving help from VOICES on a range of matters, including help to find accommodation, budget to furnish the property, and purchase essentials as well as materials/supplies “to keep his mind occupied” and support his mental health. They also started a memory board to help him remember his appointments. Bobby talked about a range of physical health issues for which he was currently undergoing investigations and tests. He explained how he struggled with keeping and being on time for appointments, and how the memory board helped. His service co-ordinator was also arranging some counselling for Bobby to talk about some past experiences. He explained,
“They have been there for me, you know, if I pick up the phone, they are there so it’s good to know.”
Clearly, having a place in accommodation was key for Bobby, and allowed him to build upon what he had already achieved himself: “I have stayed out of trouble myself these last two years, but it could have gone either way really, if I had nowhere to stay”. He went on to describe how he “felt myself slipping just before all of this”. However, since being involved with VOICES, he explained, “Now I feel settled I can find my feet and get everything sorted now” and went on to say that “without [service co-ordinator] I would have been lost”. He thinks that, without the help from VOICES, his physical and mental health would be worse, and he would probably be back in prison or on the streets.
Throughout his interview, Bobby emphasised the positive difference VOICES and his service co-ordinator have made for him. He describes them as “invaluable”. As he summed it up:
“I was struggling before (VOICES) but right now, you know, I’m happy I have got somewhere, and I am doing it. I have had a lot of help, but I needed direction, motivation, and help, and that’s what I got through VOICES.”
The only challenge, he felt, had been COVID. He believed that future services could learn a lot from VOICES about how to engage more with people, find out what their interests are and what would help to motivate them and keep them busy