It’s January 2014, and I’m sat on a sheep’s skin, crouched between two rocks on the high moor. I have been given a question from Caspar Walsh: ‘Why am I here?’
This scene was one of my first encounters with Write To Freedom, on a mentor training weekend.
My name’s Ben, and since that weekend, I’ve become one of the key forces within the charity. I’ve mentored, facilitated, support staffed, and now I’m coordinating a project for imprisoned fathers and their families alongside Parc Prison and Barnados.
To tell you a little bit about myself and how I came to be a part of Write To Freedom, I grew up in the wildly awesome Cornwall where welly walks, roaring coastlines and blistering summers by the sea were the norm. My childhood and teenage years were filled with all of the good things you would expect. But underlying this, I also had to contend with an absent father, and a succession of drug dealers and alcoholic men being my day-to-day role models.
A lot of young men have had similar, sometimes much worse, experiences than me. Some are not so fortunate to find a way out of the cycles and habits they have learnt from their role models growing up. These sorts of undeserved experiences force young people into drugs and crime. Luckily for me, at some point along the way I channeled that anger and fear away from crime and drugs, and plowed it into my academic life. I began a journey of personal development, which led me to Write To Freedom.
This year is an exciting year for myself, and for Write To Freedom. After a period of infrastructure growth we are turning our sites back to delivery, and I’m very glad to be involved. There is nothing more rewarding than taking young people on a journey out on the moors, away from their iPhones, and into a more instinctual reality where they are emotionally challenged, yet safe and held. And once more, I too am continually challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone working alongside Write To Freedom. As we continue to help others, we also continue to help ourselves. It’s that synergy which is so great about the work we do.
In answer to Caspar’s question ‘Why I am here’, in my time of need as a teenager, I came very close to straying down bad paths. If it weren’t for a couple of influential role models in my life, I would be in a very different scenario today. I am here because I want to make sure that Write To Freedom comes into the lives of others just at the right time, as it did for me, and that everyone has the opportunity to surround themselves with nature, growth, and solid role models.
I’m more than happy to talk in further detail about my experiences, both with Write To Freedom and growing up. Drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org