ONE 7 • Giving Back

the realities of what can happen inside…
Before prison I was a cheeky, arrogant little bastard who didn’t care about anyone other than myself. Add the consumption of alcohol and I turned into a complete animal. It’s not the question of who I was, it’s what I was.
Now, due to my unforgivable criminality, I am confined to the walls of this prison and I’m determined for people to change their thoughts, views and opinions about me. I don’t quite know what it would mean to be forgiven — by others or even myself. No one is perfect. No one is invincible. I’m paying the price for my mistakes and trying to give something back.
Last year we raised money for three outside organisations. This year, we wanted to give something back to the people who have helped us in prison. We even took some stick because we decided to raise money for a “screw” (a slang name for officer). We didn’t care.
On Wednesday 8th October 2008, me and a couple of the other boys ran a charity night to raise money for an ex-prison officer who’d retired early due to cancer. I didn’t know the man. None of us do. That doesn’t matter. All I know is that he’s a young, ex-prison officer on the verge of dying and we wanted to help him have a few memories with his young family.
We started off raising the money through a raffle, open to only the prisoners that reside in Polmont. We ran the raffle through September, raising a few hundred pounds. There were two winners: one got a signed Glasgow Rangers Football and the other a signed Glasgow Celtic Football.
Later, we held a charity night in the prison gymnasium and invited people from inside and outside the prison, including our families. We invited a special guest speaker, Jim Leishman, a former professional footballer and current director of football of Scottish Division One side Dunfermline Athletic, who gave a motivational talk. In addition, we set up some games for everyone so that it wasn’t just another boring charity night.
At the start, things didn’t go too well. People weren’t showing up and we thought it was going to be a complete farce. Finally, as the night progressed, more and more people started to come in. In the end, the night was a complete success, and we raised eight hundred pounds
for the officer.
Before she left, my Mum, dressed in a black top with blue jeans that she bought especially for our night, kissed me on the head, which embarrasses me. My Stepdad surprised me by saying “You are my son and I’m proud of you” as he zipped up his coat. My best mate, who has become like a brother to me since my troubles first began, gave me a hug and said “love you bro.” Things are changing.
—Steve Smith Polmont YOI