More evidence of how small test budgets can work for people in criminal justice

We’ve been working with Diversity Matters to help men involved with criminal justice to identify what they need to move on with their lives and how having a small test budget can make a difference. Here are some of their stories:

James lives in supported accommodation run by Crossreach in the east end of Glasgow. At the moment, he is looking forward to moving into his own home once permanent housing becomes available. James has always been passionate about music so he decided to spend his £200 on an electric guitar. He feels that being able to write songs and perform them for people helps him share how he is feeling and has improved his mental health. It’s also been a good way to make new friends and connections, by meeting people who share his passion for music and going out to gigs. Having the extra money to buy the guitar has opened up a new world for James and a way for him to express his talent!

Simon has serious mental health issues and suffers from anxiety. He has been living in a new area where he didn’t know anyone and felt very isolated. He is separated from his ex-partner and young son although he keeps in touch with his son regularly and sees him as often as he can.

His housing situation wasn’t great and was causing him to feel very low – he had no local connections or basic facilities, the flat had bare floorboards and only a single cooker so it didn’t feel like a warm and welcoming space to have family over. He decided to spend his money on a carpet, which would mean his son could come and stay over. Having the carpet has made a big difference not just to Simon, but to his relationship with his son.

He said “I am so grateful, I spoke to my son last night and he is so happy I got the carpet and he is able to come see me next month when he gets off school. I am so happy too, I wasn’t feeling too great the past few months but everything is looking brighter for me, I have been a lot more content”.

Liam is 20 and had previous convictions after selling on stolen goods to get money for bus fares. With help from his support worker at HMP Low Moss Prisoner Support Pathway Team, he signed up for a free gym membership. He used his £200 to buy weights and equipment, which has led to him getting more into fitness. This has given him a new, healthier focus and has led to him changing his diet and becoming interested in learning to become a chef. It has been really good for him to have something positive to work towards and his own equipment to do things at home too. While he is currently sofa surfing between his parents’ house, he is actively working towards obtaining his own tenancy with the help of his support worker.