Opportunity found in probation order to make positive change

Opportunity found in probation order to make positive change image

Michael Rochford*, 51, has overcome a lifetime of alcohol dependency after being caught shoplifting to fund his habit.

He was convicted in April 2017 and sentenced to 12 months’ probation, including 80 hours unpaid work and 20 rehabilitative activity requirement (RAR) days.

Michael’s order is currently managed by Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) through an innovative management tool, the Interchange Model, that is designed to personalise the needs of the service user by referring into various community services to obtain maximum rehabilitation results.

M CRC case manager, Hannah Robertshaw said: “Michael had a positive experience with probation prior to sentencing. He was encouraged to think about the support he could access and not dwell on the punishment.

“He approached his sentence plan with motivation and determination, remaining positive when things got difficult.”

Michael started drinking at 20 when he joined the air force as an administrator. He was involved in the rugby union and football club where drink culture was heavily supported.

Michael said: “My solicitor advised me to consider probation as a support service to help me change my life. I had denied my alcohol dependency and was reluctant to face it.

“My first impression of Hannah was that she was willing to listen to me and encouraged me to talk about my issues. This openness enabled me to build a pathway of services to meet my rehabilitation needs. “

Michael faced issues with homelessness, unemployment and debt due to alcoholism. Hannah referred Michael to Knowsley Integrated Recovery Service where he could address his alcohol dependency. Michael was then able to secure accommodation.

Michael said: “Being made redundant in August 2016 led to depression, debt and a breakup of my relationship.

“Debt led me to steal things to pay the money owed but I spent the money at the pub instead.”

One of the key factors in Michael’s success was participating in the Intuitive Thinking Skills programme which counted for ten RAR days.

He said: “In the first five weeks you address your addictive thinking and then go on to helping secure employment. I had an interview set-up by the end of the first week and got the job.”

Michael changed his perspective on addiction during the Intuitive Thinking Skills programme. He realised he had been addicted to alcohol for 30 years – more than half his life.

He said: “I needed to help myself – not doctors and medication. I refused the medication because of the stigma attached and I knew they were addictive. It didn’t make sense to go from one addiction to another.

Michael had his last drink on June 10th, 2017. He is grateful to his mum for her massive support. His father gave him strong principles which helped him get his life on track. His two daughters also inspired and encouraged the change.

On his time with probation, Michael said: “If I had just paid lip service, there would be no benefit to anyone.

“I didn’t see my RAR days as punishment but an opportunity to change. Now I am enjoying life again.”

*not his real name