How prison inmate is on the road to turning his life around
- Credit: Gez Chetal
A prison inmate has taken the first steps towards turning his life around by finding employment during the final months of his sentence.
Jack Goldstraw was jailed for six years in 2019 for his part in a violent brawl in Cambridgeshire.
But after a year at HMP Peterborough, the 33-year-old gained category D status - making him eligible for transfer to Britannia House, an open prison in Norwich.
Open prisons have minimal security and allow offenders to spend time away from the prison on licence for educational or work purposes.
"My lifestyle from the age of 18 to 28 was somewhat chaotic and irresponsible," said Mr Goldstraw. "I was partying, drinking and fighting too much.
"When I was first jailed and found out what open prison was, I did everything I could to get there.
"You have to engage with prison life. There is lots of scope to go down the wrong path so, for me, it was about staying strong-minded and focused."
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A few months into his time at Britannia House, Mr Goldstraw received a visit from Gez Chetal, owner of Thetford's Thomas Paine Hotel.
He also runs Prismstart, a community interest company which helps those in the prison system to find work.
"In 2017 I visited HMP Norwich and saw how much talent was being wasted," said Mr Chetal.
"The trouble is, as soon as ex-offenders declare a criminal record, employers don't want to know.
"We don't charge anything. We are simply trying to bridge the gap between prison and employment."
Soon enough, Mr Chetal was able to find work for Mr Goldstraw with a farmer based in Brandon.
Over the past few weeks, he has been carrying out a variety of maintenance and construction tasks, even learning how to use farmyard machinery.
With 14 months of his jail term still to go, Mr Goldstraw is simply enjoying being on the path towards a normal life.
"When you go to prison, it strips you down and takes away a lot of your wellbeing," he added.
"I don't want to come across as wanting sympathy because, ultimately, I am in prison. But this is a light at the end of the tunnel."