December 1998

Shewar is another Edges Personality of the year;
he is pictured receiving one of our awards.

When I first went into prison, I was messed up, doing a lot of drugs. I wasn't doing Heroin and Cocaine, I was doing lots of dance drugs and I used to smoke a lot of cannabis, and I was doing a lot of crime. I was just doing anything, anything for money, anything just to supply my habit. People always say you don't get addicted to Cannabis and stuff like that and dance drugs, but you do - there as bad as normal drugs. Then when I went into prison at first I was always getting into trouble - never doing any of my work and eventually, I got thrown out of the Education Department. They chucked me out, and I had to be banged up all the time. That was when I told myself I needed to change. I asked them to give me a final one chance, one chance but they had to go away and think about it and in the end, they gave me a chance. I've now never looked back. The thing is that they are always behind you, always motivating you. The teachers were all helping me. They just made me feel like I was human. To the officers you were a number, but the teachers made you feel human, more like a person and they used to bring you chocolates and stuff like that. Little things like that make you feel like a person again.

The first time I ever got arrested I was about 11 or 12, I had a pellet gun/rifle kind of thing. I think it was the drugs, because I started taking drugs early. I was in school I got into drugs, not hard stuff, just stuff like Cannabis and LSD, Ecstasy - stuff like that, but I took them more and more and more then I used to just go out and rob, nick cars, rob stereos, rob people, just take anything that was lying around. You don't think about your conscience, you don't think about people you just think about I need it, I need it, that's all you think about. I went from bad to worse. Then I thought robbing a car was just too much hassle, so then I started robbing people, robbing people on the streets. It's been ups and downs all my life. My father left us when I was young, and stuff like that. Sometimes you think everything's going fine then something bad always crops up. When I went into Lancaster Farms I thought oh yeah - they've put me in here, I'm bad, I'm this, I'm that, I'm not going to do anything, I'll take the system on - and thinking I've got nothing to worry about. I messed around for a couple of months, they stuck us down the block most of the time, quite severe in my sentence, but I never really thought about it - I thought I'll just do it and get out and do the s same stuff again. I think it was when I got a letter from my mum begging me to sort myself out and that, I think that was really the turning point. But the teachers in the prison played a part. Fair enough it's a prison, but its got an anti-bullying policy, the staff are well trained, they don't do stuff like letting fights go on and turning a blind eye, Lancaster Farms crack down on everything. They don't let you go anywhere without being watched, and the Education Department are really, really helpful. If you're committed as a person and you want to do something they'll give you all the help in the world; they'll motivate you.

Life couldn't be better now, I'm at University and I've actually got a bank account now - it might sound weird but I've got a bank account, I've got bank cards. I don't owe people money, I'm not in any debt, I'm not doing drugs, I just go out, I enjoy myself, go to my lectures, come home, make myself something to eat - little things like that. I sit at my own table, in my own flat with my own flatmate and I don't have to watch my back or think I need some drugs and things - Its totally changed in my life - and I mean totally. I'm a totally different person. I didn't go into rehab. I've got to be honest I've had a couple of smokes of Cannabis since I've been at University but I've stayed off all the dance drugs because they really messed me up. I've just had a couple of drags on a spliff now and then. I couldn't be happier receiving this award, but I reckon the Education Department at Lancaster Farms deserves the award. Award enough for me was going to University, I reckon. They don't get a lot of recognition, they do a lot for people, people think that they are just teachers but they do every little thing, like when I was applying for University, stuff like that, Melody and Debbie helped me out and we had to get my forms in on time, and they really care for you. At the moment life could not be better - I've got everything.

I am studying for a sociology and psychology degree, but I'd like to be a forensic psychologist in the future. I'd like to be a researcher, but mainly a forensic psychologist.

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