"As an ex-offender, I had a lot to do to get my life in order. First and foremost, it was only when I got caught that I realised the gravity of what I had been up to in my youth even though my behaviour was pretty normal amongst myself and my peers. It led to me losing my family, my friends, my home, everything and I just needed to get in, get my head down and get on with my sentence. I decided to use my sentence as a catalyst for change and I made a point of getting myself straight into the education unit to address the fact I did not have a leaving certificate or any formal qualifications.
In the education unit, I got a FETAC Level 5 Overall Business Award, I completed a B120 Introduction to Business Studies with the Open University. I completed my advanced ECDL and also got two level six certificates in Microsoft Word, and Excel and done some work around drug awareness and got myself clean so I felt that I had an awful lot going for me on my release.
"I became involved with Social Enterprise as a trainee in PACE a number of years ago. I was not fully sure what it meant but I got involved anyway. I really enjoyed making the products and dealing with the customers. I loved working with Brendan and learning from his vast knowledge and experience.
I got an immense amount of satisfaction from seeing products we’d made dotting the streets of Dublin. An opportunity arose to apply for two jobs in relation to Social Enterprise and I applied for both – General Operative (GO) and Social Enterprise Co-ordinator (SEC). I was only successful in getting called for the GO post. I was very disappointed at that as I felt it would have been a good experience to at least go for interview as I had not done many before.
"I started in Pace for 6 weeks on Community Returns. I decided to stay on because I grew to like what they were doing. I liked everything I did, learning woodwork, art and design, computers and I really loved the wood-burning. I learned loads about horticulture and gardening. Pace helped me get myself together again after prison.
If I had stayed at home doing nothing I would have been bored and depressed. I definitely feel more confident in myself. I talk out more than I ever did. The keyworkers and the staff are brilliant, they really help you and go out of their way. There’s a brilliant sense of community in the place, we all help each other if we can".