“When I was first sent to prison I felt very low and wondered how I would cope”

“When I was first sent to prison I felt very low and wondered how I would cope” image

Reformed offender Nevada Smith is hoping to branch out into a new career following completion of his arborist course.

The 36-year-old, who was sentenced to 132 months and is currently on licence, has been awarded a grant from the Hardman Trust to fund his training as he completes his rehabilitation.

The Hardman Trust aims increase the number of prisoners making a positive contribution to society by providing selected long-sentenced prisoners with financial awards and all prisoners with access to a high-quality financial resources directory.

Jennifer Bah, Nevada’s case manager, who has been supporting Nevada through his probation said: “The Hardman Trust who offer grants of money for those who have worked hard and proved themselves whilst in custody. Nevada was released, and I have worked with him to gain his grant and to book him onto some work focussed courses in Skipton through Tyro Training.”

Nevada, who was convicted of receiving and selling stolen cars and false representation, said: ‘When I was first sent to prison I felt very low and wondered how I would cope. I soon began to realise I needed to make changes to the way I had been behaving to change my life around. I knew had caused a lot of hurt and pain in the past to my victims and my family.

“I wanted to learn to read and write so I can do other courses to help me and my family in the future. It was small steps at first. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t read and write but I knew I had to try to make changes.

“At first I had one to one support with the toe-by-toe mentors. This gave me confidence to go into the classes with others. I worked really hard and got Level 1 and 2 in English and Maths then looked at other courses I could access. Rather than spend time sleeping in my room I would try to look things I was interested in to practice reading and writing. In my spare time I would write about what I was interested in and how I would achieve what I was aiming for.

“I wanted to learn to read and write so I can do other courses to help me and my family in the future. It was small steps at first. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t read and write but I knew I had to try to make changes.

“I worked towards getting to CAT D which gave me more opportunities. My hard work and good behaviour was recognised and rewarded. I spoke to another long-term inmate about the courses I wanted to do but that I had no money to do them. He told me about the Hardman Trust and how they could help me.

“I wrote to them about what I want to do and what I had done to get where I was. I was truthful about my past and what I wanted my future to look like. I showed my determination and how I had made changes.

“Having these qualifications will allow me to set up my own business as an arborist in the future. I am currently working with a brother tree felling and doing well. I didn’t think I’d be here when I first started my sentence and am proud of working hard and the changes I have made to my life”

“I sent certificates of all the courses I had done and the OMU, my personal officer, probation and a governor, who deals with Hardman Trust, also supported me in writing.

“I was accepted and recognised for the work I have done and have since received a cheque from the Hardman Trust. This is funding courses for climbing and rigging of trees and using a chainsaw on trees at heights and I am looking forward to getting started.

“Having these qualifications will allow me to set up my own business as an arborist in the future. I am currently working with a brother tree felling and doing well. I didn’t think I’d be here when I first started my sentence and am proud of working hard and the changes I have made to my life.”

Ian Wilson from the Hardman Trust said: I felt humbled reading what Nevada has written. Nevada should be very proud of how he has turned his life around. He is clearly a very worthy award recipient and it is great that money raised by the North Sea Camp prisoner fundraising team and the recognition by the Trust of his considerable achievements are giving him a well-deserved boost.

Jennifer said: “Due to Nevada’s determination he is about to start on his courses this month. Ian Wilson has asked that Nevada and I visit North Sea Camp where he can talk to other long-term inmates about his experiences and inspire them.”