Tracing my roots

Family, identity, and learning from the past

I did approach the first stage with P3 a little negatively because I thought, this is just another system to set me up and put me back in jail, you see I’ve been on this licence thing and parole, and just one slight little hair pull and you get sent back. That’s happened to me before.

They try and have that little bit of knowledge about you, so they can tick their boxes and claim that: ‘Oh this is what he’s about, this is what you do!’ It’s so far from the truth … Some people don’t seem to be genuine you know?

Now, there’s lots of stuff going on in my life where P3 check up on my health and my wellbeing. I feel it you know, because it’s genuine. I’ve got someone working alongside me who clearly knows what they’re doing and has got my best interests.

I was told it was my last chance for anything

It was two sentences—eight and a half years first of all for armed robbery. It was a drug thing. 21 years old. I got heavily addicted by the time I was eighteen and then when I was 21, I did a very, very foolish thing and tried to get some money from a Post Office. It was a robbery, two of us desperate for money. My brother was in prison already. I couldn’t go and visit him and I was so depressed … I got eight and a half years for that and I was on parole and stupidly I was ratting off of benzo’s—I was on a diazepam script and benzos are very, very addictive, controlling …

So, I went in a shop and I tried to get some money and the guy started throwing wine bottles at me—I’m glad he did now—so I quickly left. Again, I was not me, it felt like I was walking on bags of air, I was a space cadet! The intoxication of benzos, I felt I was outside of my body, not invincible, but it was unreal. Benzos they’re so strong, I think it’s hard, diazepam, methadone and other strong tablets, that family of drugs is so …

On the news they were saying light skinned male with a black jacket had done something at the Spar. I was paranoid to death, because they’d described me. I handed myself in after a couple of days. I expected to be in for a long time now, because I’d done a similar thing again while I was on parole.

They told me: ‘If you hadn’t handed yourself in, in the circumstances that you did and giving a full confession …’

I got some credit for that, but I was told it was my last chance for anything. The judge, he said if you do anything like this you will not see daylight again, and he gave me four years.

It was attempted robbery, but I left the scene, without taking so much as a chocolate bar, that’s the truth of it man. It really hurts me to think about it, but I’ve done my time. It was a long time and I did the full term, I am ashamed of what I did.

I think it all goes back to the adoption

I tried hanging myself and the rope snapped. There’s a reason why, I don’t know whether there’s a bit of luck you know? It was mental health, not feeling accepted. I didn’t care whether I was alive or dead I genuinely didn’t.

I think it all goes back to the adoption. Things went wrong very, very quick. I went back into care, a few years in a boarding school, tried going back home, but didn’t last a week. There was so much neglect through those early years, I very quickly realised these people weren’t my biological parents for them to be doing these bad things. Today you’re not allowed to batter your kids and stuff, today they’d be in prison, seriously.

I was asking questions at a very early age who are my real parents? But social services said we won’t give you any information until you’re legally 18 and because my brother was a year younger they told me I had to wait until he was 18 … so they made me wait until I was 19.

The file told me my parents’ names, areas where I was born and lived, a lot of different addresses from North London to Moss Side, Manchester. We were finally adopted because my mother had been stabbed by a pimp. My birth father was in prison, that era was the late 70’s, early 80’s. Can you remember hearing about the race riots in London? The Brixton riots? They were around the same time my birth mother must have lost me and my brother.

We had the same biological parents so that proved it wasn’t just one of her customers. We had the same dad a year apart, but she moved to Moss Side, Manchester, she was stabbed by her pimp, was warned for leaving kids home alone again, didn’t turn up to court …

So anyway, I got her name, I remember their names clearly, but a lot of the smaller detail I can’t remember …

So, P3 are going to help me get the paperwork again and I know it will make me a bit more complete as a person. I’m going to accept anything, a lot will have happened since then, they could be dead, but I’m prepared for anything that could be. It’s easier to know …

The family tracing is important, because I believe that I’m going to get a true feeling, a true aura of who I am.

Every summer holiday we’d return to the foster parents who we were with before we were adopted. They had that true interest in how our lives were going and I thought they might have met my biological mum while the court case had been going on. I asked could she remember anything? She said what she can remember is she genuinely loved and cared for us but her lifestyle was so chaotic. She would miss court, appointments and she got last warnings … So that was a good starting image in my head, to think at least we weren’t just tossed in, unwanted, we were taken from her because she couldn’t keep up with stuff.

But, some information is being held back about them and I truly believe it may be to do with what my birth father did, because apparently, he stabbed two policemen. But bear in mind the police were battering the blacks in the Brixton riots, it’s all on news clips ain’t it? Stabbing anyone is not acceptable at all, but what do you do when you’re in fear for your life?

That’s what I think he might have had to deal with … They said he was a carpenter, he came over from Jamaica, so he had a trade and that and that got me trying to do carpentry for a couple of years …

I want to assist people … try and use this as a strength

In between all this and jail, sport is what saved my life, but unfortunately man I wasted my talent, behind walls.

I was an amazing sportsman. Every tournament or league I was in, the top teams always tried to poach me from the team I was in! I played for the prison teams and I played well, I should have been on TV. I still believe I’m destined to be involved in some competition or sports coaching, maybe supporting people and being a role model.

I want to assist people, I really want to try and use this as a strength before it’s too late. I want to do some sort of counselling or support work like P3. I’ve been told by many people I’m really easy to talk to and really have an effect on people’s lives.

*Name changed for anonymity.

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