Michael was caught in a vicious cycle of re-offending that had already resulted in his daughter being removed from his life and was heading towards a long prison sentence.
However, thanks to support from the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) and social justice charity P3, he quit cannabis, secured the right medication, has stable accommodation – and can now see a bright future.
The father-of-one, from Liverpool, had been sentenced to an 18 month Suspended Sentence Order and 200 hours Community Payback for possession of cannabis with intent to supply. Police had smelt the drug in his house and arrested him in 2017.
Samantha Greave-Smith (pictured right on the photo), M CRC probation case manager, supervises Michael’s order. Probation had referred Michael to P3, which is part of the Interserve-led partnership that runs M CRC. P3 employs link workers who support people on probation who are classed as having complex needs and are deemed to be highly likely to re-offend.
Following being arrested for drug driving, Michael quit cannabis, but he was still re-offending on a regular basis and had recently been on probation for assault. He had also lost touch with his child because the mother was wary of his ability to control his anger.
He said: “I knew something wasn’t right with me. I’d always found it hard to get to know people.
“I’d change my mobile phone all the time because I hated the idea of people knowing my number, but that obviously meant my family and friends couldn’t keep in touch with me. I’d get angry when they tried to give me a new phone, and I’d snap the SIM.
“But now I’ve started to get my head back together. And it’s thanks to Sam and P3.”
Michael has Perthes disease, a condition which badly affects the hip, is painful, and which limits his mobility. He voluntarily agreed to work with P3’s link worker Lindsay Whelan. Lindsay quickly realised that Michael also required support with his mental health, and took him to a series of appointments for both that and his hip.
Michael was diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder and ADHD.
He said: “I’ve had no help in 30 years, but now I’ve got both Sam and Lindsay fighting my corner. I’m shocked. They put me first.
“Cannabis messes with your head. You never know what’s in it. I’d been smoking it from when I was a teenager. It got so bad I was smoking it from when I woke up until when I went to bed.
“After I stopped smoking, I was still angry all the time. Lindsay realised something wasn’t right and took me to all my appointments. Because of her, I am now slowly coming out of my shell. She has been amazing. I’ve called her when I’ve been upset and she’s calmed me down.”
Michael is now getting a special pair of trainers that compensate for the fact his legs are different lengths, and has also progressed well on Community Payback.
He said: “I come across as loud and I struggled on unpaid work. But Sam never judged me, she settled me down, and that’s helped me crack on.
“In the past I could tell staff didn’t like me and that got me riled up.”
Sam said: “Michael had underlying mental health issues but had ever engaged. He’s a clever lad, we explained to him that he can come across as impulsive and to his immense credit he has been able to rein it in.
“P3 has been so effective because they were able to spend the time ensuring Michael could navigate the appointments he needed to make in order to be diagnosed and get the right medication.
“The evidence of his progress is borne out by Community Payback. The supervisor sang his praises because Michael threw himself into the work. He has also agreed to do a group course to help him stay off the drugs. A year ago Michael would never have willingly agreed to do that.”
When Lindsay first met Michael she thought he was aggressive, but she also realised he struggled to make eye contact and was extremely agitated.
She said: “Trying to get the right medication was a nightmare because of the waiting lists and the fact Michael was in a bad way and needed help.
“We had to go time and time again, and that’s where P3 proves its worth because Michael would have struggled to navigate that process on his own in the condition he was in. We are advocates, and I am proud that he feels I’ve been able to help.
“The best illustration of this is that Michael is making his own appointments and is progressing so well.”
P3 also worked to secure his benefits and stable accommodation.
Michael hadn’t spoken with his daughter – now aged nine – for a year-and-a-half.
He said: “But now, thanks to getting my mental health sorted, I’m back in her life. Her mum has seen the change in me. I used to be smoking and shouting all the time. Thanks to Lindsay and Sam I’m not like that anymore.
“Lindsay is gold dust. They are both amazing.”