The Men’s Group is a safe space for men working through their criminal orders to learn new skills, build relationships through activities, and work on their self-esteem. It is one of our services for people moving through the Criminal Justice System.
Here, John Muirhead, Men’s Group Worker shares his story of one of the men who attended the group:
“When thinking of whose story to share from the Men’s Group, it is easy to put Jack* centre stage. Jack has been coming to the group for about 2 years now. He has hardly missed a meeting, and in fact it’s noticeable when he’s not there!
Jack came to the Men’s Group as part of fulfilling his community order. However, he soon made coming along part of his weekly routine, and he values sharing the same space with familiar faces week-in week-out. At first he was a little quiet and happier to support what we were doing more from behind the scenes. But over time he came out of his shell and now takes a leading role in much of what we do, from activities around well-being and confidence building, to growing produce in a garden, to trips to museums.
We love the creative ideas Jack brings to the group, and with no small degree of ambition too. His latest suggestion is to put on a play! Perhaps some aspire to be thespians, but for many in the group even simply turning up for a meeting with their social worker to ‘perform’ can be very daunting. But have you ever heard that enthusiasm is contagious? I think this is true, because when Jack is there, others from the group seem to be more willing to get involved and try things they’ve never done before.
It is unusual to have to curb someone’s enthusiasm, but in a sense wonderful to have to do this too… We’ve had to negotiate many times with Jack how to come up with more practical suggestions for the group – abseiling off the Forth Road Bridge just seemed a little too off script!
But Jack hasn’t always been so confident. He has shared a little of his journey of comedies and tragedies, trials and tribulations, of loves lost and found. His story is about struggles and barriers he has had to overcome to get where he is now. Hearing of how much he has had to fight for the good things he has in his life now, such as a place to call home, friends, a partner and his health, I too am encouraged to re-evaluate how I value the good things in my life.
But whilst ‘on stage’ in the group, it is easy to see his ‘performance’ isn’t superficial, but comes with integrity, and reflects someone who has not shied away from treading the boards of life.
I’m looking forward to seeing what play he carries us forward into.”
*Name has been changed