When I was released from prison, there was nobody there to meet me. My ‘friends’, who had been police, civil servants, teachers and other respectable professions, didn’t want to know me. I was isolated, alone and afraid. I didn’t fit in with any of the ‘normal’ groups. Things got worse as I became dependent on a ‘substances’ to ignore my problems and became addicted. I was isolated, paranoid, depressed and very lonely, I even started to miss prison. Then, through CAIS, I found Jigsaw; it’s difficult to put into words how jigsaw has changed my life, but I’ll try:
I was alone; but no, there are many people like me and so I got to meet new people through Jigsaw. I made “friends”, I met people who knew what my life was like, and I was not alone.
I meet people who were in ‘recovery’ and not ‘using’, so I was not hanging around the usual crowd, coming under peer pressure to use or commit crime, Jigsaw gave me other outlets.
I lacked confidence; I thought I was finished as a member of society and felt like an outcast. Jigsaw gave me the opportunity to do activities I would never had done before due to my shyness and feelings of alienation. Jigsaw activities gave me confidence in my abilities to do new things. I have now regained my confidence in my abilities and have transferred these to my rehabilitation as a member of society and hope to return to useful employment soon.
The greatest aspect of Jigsaw has to be the activities. We are left alone as a group on the activities and have to work together as a group to get things done. If we don’t work together the activity is not as enjoyable or even worst, a bad experience. Nobody wants a bad experience, so we developed an ‘Us against the World attitude’. I don’t know if it is intentional, but the activities are great team building exercises. I found the activities are great for combating depression and increasing self-motivation. If I say I will go on an activity and be part of the group, it motivates me to get out of bed, to go out and not let my new friends down.
Whilst in prison, suffering from mental health issues, or as an addict, you are alone, or you feel that you are, in an isolated bubble of misery. Jigsaw helped to burst that bubble and bring me out into the real World. Everyone I have met who’ve used Jigsaw, past and present, tell me what a positive affect Jigsaw has had on them. I see people still using and committing crime that will not engage with Jigsaw and see it as a waste of time. People who see the benefits of Jigsaw sort their lives out. We, who go to Jigsaw, try to encourage these other people to attend when their ready. People with mental health issues may or may not be substance abusers; it doesn’t matter as they will still be welcomed. As Jigsaw says “We believe that everyone deserves a second chance.”