We have chosen to use this specific diary excerpt today, not because it is the final entry written within the prison walls but because it reflects, to a certain extent, where First Time Inside is now on the journey to making a positive contribution within the justice network.

The concept has been widely and positively received – as seen in the little storyboard attached – and the ideas attached to the development have the potential to make a real impact in the lives of people who need a little more help than they are getting elsewhere. It is our job to drive that forward now ensuring that the impact we make is maximised and in many ways that success or otherwise will come down to securing financial support and/or a home for the platform we have created.

To date we have been entirely self funding and moving forward we want to continue to be creative in our approach to sustaining a drive towards a change in culture.

In the short term we hope to attract a number of small sponsors to our Blog/Website in the form of advertising sharing their support across social media platforms and offline activities. Details of the sponsorship/advertising packages we have in mind are available to any business or organisation who feel they may be interested in supporting not only a blog or a range of services but also a culture shift in the justice network.

It’s our aim to ensure that anyone going to prison in Scotland is afforded at least a pre-induction courtesy. Why do we send people to prison with no preparation or gift of insight? Are we really, as a society, saying to another human being you’re not worth the hassle? That doesn’t reflect the ideals of smart justice as we understand them. Contact with the justice network prior to and including being sent to prison can generate great collateral damage and through a series of initiatives we believe we can contribute to reducing that damage.

First Time Inside is about more than just talking to people before they go to prison for the first time, although that was the spark that ignited our passion, it is about leading a conversation and creating a platform for improvement in that early justice network process.

To that end we need to work with others to make the vision a reality and by introducing small, short term sponsorship/advertising opportunities we feel we are laying the foundation for greater collaboration with positive partners farther down the road.

We will blog about specific sponsorship activities later this week but in the interim please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] should you wish to discuss either sponsorship/advertising or our greater vision with us, we look forward to that conversation.

Enjoy todays excerpt below and please as always share and comment if so moved;

Twas the night before Christmas
When all thro the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse

One more sleep, although I cannot imagine being able to sleep, as the excitement and adrenaline attached to the prospect of leaving here is quite literally breath taking.
Even in those heady, happy days of childhood when, on Christmas Eve, you were so keen to get to bed before Santa arrived that sleep seemed almost impossible I was more prone to slumber than in these past few days in HMP Mind Numbing.

I don’t recall ever being so excited and afraid in equal measure at any time in my life.

For most people those emotions come singularly but tonight, it’s now 2am in the morning, my heart rate feels so quick it must be dangerous and the pounding pulse of its beating so loud in my ears as I sit here in the still of night, aware that tomorrow I can leave this place behind me, I actually wonder if my neighbouring prisoners can hear it beating through the concrete walls. I actually find myself staring at the alarm button in my cell thinking surely I will not need to press that tonight of all nights. And even as I do entertain that thought I recognise it’s just my body reacting to a major life experience and I remember experiencing similar seemingly conflicting feelings when my youngest was being born in emergency conditions – the anticipation of joy and the fear of tragedy.

As I sit here and scribble this last entry to my prison diary, admittedly sleep deprived and on edge, my emotions are like a ball in a pinball machine bouncing from pillar to post frantically searching for the jackpot button to bring the high-speed ricocheting to an end.

Rationality has gone and I start to wonder if all of this is just a game and that when they open the door later this morning I’ll be told that HDC is being cancelled and my time here extended. Of course, I know that makes no sense but when you are in this place nothing does. That’s part of the collateral mental damage that occurs here. The daily patronisation will not be missed at all.
Yesterday, my final day, was one of the most bizarre in my life. I found my popularity spiked and I quickly realised it was because I was not only leaving but also that I’d be leaving behind some possessions that may be useful to others. I also realised that the only things I wanted to leave here with were the clothes on my back and the letters and photos from loved ones accumulated over the past few months. So everything else I had was given away, from CD player to electric shaver, from books to art set, from towels to toiletries and all remaining canteen goods which I may regret a little as I’m strangely hungry right now. With a bit of luck handing that stuff out to some of the other guys makes a miniscule difference to someone even in this place.

The excitement attached to leaving is incredible but the emotion attached to it quite alarming as I find myself smiling inside but crying on the outside when sitting alone here waiting for the exit door to be officially opened.

The fear of leaving is also a real surprise to me. For the past months and weeks it’s been a build up of anticipation, a longing to escape and a countdown to re-entering the normal world. Now that the moment has arrived I take stock of everything I’ve lost by being here and wonder how I will rebuild a life that allows me to provide for my family. I think I was always motivated, to a certain extent, by a fear of failure and being in prison for me represents a spectacular failure. Starting over seems so daunting. I have the luxury of a loving family and that will hopefully provide me with the bedrock to lay new foundations.

In a few hours time my two amazing boys will collect me outside the front gate of this hellish place and take me home. I cry at the thought of seeing them, I cry at the thought of being able to grab them and hold them close for as long as we both want when it’s been something that’s simply not allowed here. I can’t wait to see my beautiful daughter who has endured so much with my being here and just let her know that even though she is grown daddy is home again. I cannot wait to walk in the front door and see my wonderful wife who has been through her own version of hell without me at home. I cannot wait to hold her and not let go. It’s only a few hours now and as time slips by in slow motion I try to focus on my blessings and leave the rest behind in this room when I leave.

I’m taking this diary with me because I feel it might be of use to me further down the road, I’m not sure why or how but it’s been my pal for a few months now, my confidant at times and my emotional support. I don’t want to leave that behind and I hope I find the time to continue it when I’m clear of here but only time will tell.

Crying as I write has become the norm I look forward to the day that smothering sadness lifts. I think that today may be the start of that process assuming they don’t change their mind of course…smiling face through the tears emoji.

The good news is there are post-prison diary extracts to follow as well as a number of in-prison excerpts still to share.

Thank you for taking the time to read our latest blog post and as previously stated we would really appreciate it if you could share our post via your own social media platforms or comment through our Contact Form at FirstTimeInside.co.uk

Have a great day and a better week, @firsttimeinside out.

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