Connect To Community supports men and women leaving prison by providing connections and friendships that integrate people to live transformed lives in the community.

As part of the programme, Bethany trains mentors who work voluntarily to aid and befriend people leaving prison and help them through potential stumbling blocks. This is where our story begins…

Daniel’s parents came on a Connect To Community training day 5 years ago and deep down they were looking for help with Daniel. He had been adopted by them when he was young. They saw he was a fine athlete but at times he received unwanted attention due to severe Tourette’s syndrome and how much taller he was than his peers.

Daniel had started to get into trouble hanging out with drug users and dabbling in drugs and they could see his life spiralling. They were looking for strategies for how they could steer him away from trouble.

Daniel started to appear on Bethany’s radar because we could see many drug users and dealers in Motherwell were taking advantage of his nature and painfully he was being badly mistreated by people. Daniel left home; sofa surfed with other drug users, moved in and out of hostels and generally was in a bad place. It ended up with Daniel getting a prison sentence and arriving in HMP Addiewell.

Daniel was still impressionable in prison and easily taken advantage of, but regular visits meant we began to build a relationship of trust with him. Unfortunately after serving a sentence of about 18 months, Daniel returned to Motherwell and returned to trouble.

It was after this, two of his closest friends lost their battle to drugs and died of overdoses. This was a wake up call to Daniel and he came seeking our help in desperation. We got him stabilised in his drug use enough to get him admitted into ‘The Carpenters Arms’ residential rehab in Loughborough.

Miraculously, the morning Daniel arrived in Loughborough with his parents he went into a wee shop to buy some sweets, and the one other customer in the shop was not only someone else going through the Connect to Community service but someone Daniel had known in Addiewell Prison. He encouraged him greatly.

Daniel completed Phase 1 of Carpenters Arms, lasting 12 weeks, and got himself clean and sober, but then left because he was homesick. Understandably his parents were panicking about him coming back to Motherwell and asked for further help but he had got a taste for a life free from addiction and he wanted to sustain it.

At this point River Garden Auchincruive was just opening as a new residential recovery village in Ayr – it is a former agriculture college and the idea is that the residents work as a horticultural community to grow the gardens and produce. Daniel had worked briefly for the forestry commission when he was 16 so outdoor work appealed to him and Bethany applied for him to go there. It took a number of months until he could be admitted, but throughout this time Daniel’s parents church were praying earnestly for him to stay clean and sober for 5 months while he waited for a space to be admitted to. He was the youngest resident to go into River Garden Auchincruive when he moved in during October 2018.

Since then Daniel started training with Ayr Seaforth Athletic Club and on Saturday 23rd March 2019 he did his first 5k park run in Ayr. He won it by miles and his time of 17 mins 10 secs was just outside his personal best which he set when he was about 15 when he was a promising athlete and before addiction set it. His parents are totally over the moon to have their son back.

He has now completed 18 months there and is the longest serving resident and they are delighted with his work ethic. He has recovered his athletic ability and is running for Ayr Seaforth in Cross Country races, regularly winning 5k races around the country. He is acting as a mentor within the project to men twice his age and he is studying for an SVQ in Youth Work and Peer Mentoring at Ayr College in which he is excelling.

We hope this story brings you the same joy and inspiration it has brought us. Thank you to Daniel and his parents for letting us share his story and we are wishing you continuous success!