Brendan's* story

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"Once I started letting Pathway in, it felt good because I could trust people again. And here we are one year later!"

My father was a fisherman and I ended up captaining a few boats. After that, moved to Christchurch and that’s when things started going sideways. I started getting into trouble, one thing led to another and I wasn’t dealing with it properly.

2006 was my first conviction and it was stupid too, it was a driving charge. That was my first conviction, then they just got worse over time ‘cause I never dealt with it properly. I shouldn’t blame the alcohol or the drugs because at the end of the day I took it, but I went and broke the law again and ended up getting a rather hefty sentence, 6 and a half years.

It’s not until you walk through those gates and those big doors go ‘crash’, that’s when you know it’s for real; that’s when you know this is it. I was still wacked out on drugs when I went to prison and I went into the isolation unit and dried out for four days, haven’t touched drugs again since.

It was the worst feeling you could imagine, times 10. It was just brutal. Even now, five years later, the urges are still there. I’m going to say 5% of staying clean is programmes you’re taught, or that you are committed to doing whilst you’re incarcerated; the other 95% of it is you. It’s all good doing all the programmes, but if that person isn’t committed to staying clean, he’s just going to go straight back to his old habits as soon as he’s released. I could’ve, quite easily, but I didn’t. Life’s too good.

About a year ago, I got transferred to the Leimon Villas at Christchurch Men’s Prison. I’d heard about Pathway and they invited me in. Every Tuesday, I’d get this voice over the speaker saying ‘writers group’ and I was thinking only sooks go to writers groups!

The first month I didn’t want to be in the villas, I hated it. I wanted to go back to something I knew. I wanted to go back to a normal cell where I knew my surroundings. They pretty much dragged me to writers group. I kept going and they got through my walls, got me to actually open up to people. And once I started letting Pathway in, it felt good because I could trust people again. And here we are one year later!

When I went to the Leimon Villas, I was a liar, I was a deceiver, I was an activist and I didn’t believe in God. But now I do. The way Pathway has changed my life is just phenomenal eh.

To the Department of Corrections, you’re just a number. You’ve done the programme, see you later and 9 out of 10 times, you’re going back to jail. Pathway, they speak to an individual by himself, then they break it down and put a plan together.

A couple of people I know at the moment, they’re smoking drugs. I actually thought when I first saw it happening, the urge would have been there to use, but I just looked at it and thought, I know where that road’s going, I’ve been on that road and that road goes straight back to those two big steel gates that close behind you when you get locked up, that’s what drives me to stay away.


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