Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company probation case manager Alan Lewis is a finalist in this year’s prestigious Probation Awards event.
The 56-year-old, who is based at CRC Central Liverpool Office, Boundary Street, was nominated after a former service user contacted the service to say that Alan had helped him become a “responsible father” and had turned his life around.
Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service annual staff awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of staff across prisons, probation and the youth custody service to protect the public and support people to lead law-abiding and positive lives.
Alan was nominated by Michael, a former service user who was born in prison, spent years in custody, but who successfully completed his last Probation Order more than a year ago.
Alan said: “I am genuinely delighted to get the nomination and be a finalist, but chiefly because the nomination came from one of my service users – that means a lot to me.
“I have always enjoyed spending time with people on probation, finding out what support they need, giving them the confidence and motivation to believe they can make positive changes to their lives and be a valuable member of the community.
“Michael is a real success story. He had an extremely challenging life when he was young, but he has proven that it’s possible to make dramatic changes. I am immensely proud of him and the continued effort he has made.”
Michael was sentenced to a 24-months Suspended Sentence Order with 150 hours unpaid work for possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.
At the time of the offence – in June 2017 – Michael had become a recluse having split from his ex-partner. He had used cocaine and other drugs for much of his life, but his usage had dramatically increased at the time of his arrest.
Michael said: “I was in a terrible state. When the police came through my front door, I’d been awake for two-days and was happy to see them because I was in despair.
“I had nothing. I had pushed all my family away and I went through long periods when I literally saw no-one. I was often thinking about suicide.”
Together Alan and Michael devised a sentence plan written from Michael’s perspective that gave him ownership.
Alan arranged for Michael to complete his Unpaid Work hours at a charity shop.
Michael, who has undergone several operations on his knees, said: “I’ve always previously viewed authority negatively, but I really appreciated that Alan had organised for me to do my Unpaid Work at a charity shop because I was very worried about working outside because of my disability.
“Every time I saw Alan, he helped me, advised me supported me and I felt better. I knew I could trust him, and I told him all about what was going on in my head.”
Michael had been sleeping in a car, but Alan – together with Elaine Thomas from Riverside Housing Association – helped him gain settled, safe accommodation and a tenancy. He also organised for Michael to have one-to-one person-centred counselling.
Michael said: “Alan saved my life. He fought for me when I’d given up. He spoke to me on a level, like he knew what I was going through. He gave me my confidence back.”
Michael and his new partner now have a five-week-old baby son and he has three other children.
Michael said: “I was born in custody. I’ve had 15 sentences and a life of police, probation and prison. I’d classed them as the enemy. For Alan to change my perception is quite something.
“I’ve now stopped taking drugs. I love my new life. Thanks to Alan I feel alive and that I can be a proper dad. I’ve had setbacks, but each time I know I’ve been able to speak with Alan, and that has helped tremendously.”
Alan said: “The difference in Michael has been incredible. He was motivated to change and wanted to become drug free, our role was then to support him, give him direction and belief. I’m enormously proud of him and I wish him every success in the future.”