Trainee Stories

Kerrin’s Story

By January 19, 2017 No Comments

Kerrin was in HMP Hollesley Bay, Suffolk and was preparing for his tenth release from prison when he was referred to Switchback. He spoke openly to his Switchback Mentor about the drive to fund his cocaine addiction which had led him to spend five of the last nine years in prison.

Kerrin spoke about managing emotional stress poorly; he had a five year old son and an extremely complicated relationship with his son’s mother. Previously he had dealt with this stress by using drugs but the relationship was now in better shape and he was being granted access to his son. Kerrin knew that staying away from drugs and alcohol was imperative to staying out from prison.

Kerrin was so reliable with all elements of Switchback that it was clear the change he needed to make didn’t lie in improving reliability, time-keeping or employability skills. He had these in abundance and impressed everyone with his food knowledge and team work. When he did move on, his work ethic was a loss to the Crisis Café. His change lay more in fostering a sense of self-worth, valuing him-self enough to see the chaos and step aside from it. Helping Kerrin see each step at Switchback – each week completed – each shift and new experience attended as step away from previous patterns and building for the future assisted him to stay on track.

Walking in off the street to a Michelin star restaurant, Kerrin took a chance and asked the Head Chef for a job trial. They were so impressed that he was employed as a Junior Chef de Partie. A great result, secured completely off his own back. After the initial excitement, the role turned out to be extremely challenging with gruelling hours and an intense working environment where mistakes were not tolerated and those who made them shamed.

Kerrin found himself in a dilemma; the job fed into his desire to feel good career-wise, have status and the respect of family and friends fuelled his drive to keep it up and retain that sense of approval. However, the environment was not healthy and things were in danger of slipping away.

What was truly impressive was that Kerrin continued to attend appointments with his Switchback Mentor even though he was sometimes working seventy hour weeks. The sessions were a chance to talk through his dilemmas, encouraging him to be kinder to himself – that perhaps the job was too much too soon, that Switchback minded about him and not ‘the job’, that the opinions of others were important but not the be all and end all – and this gave him the chance to see the bigger picture without feeling like a failure.

Kerrin decided to make a positive ending with the restaurant, explaining his reasons for leaving to them; that his history made the role too risky for him to slip. This honesty and maturity resulted in the restaurant placing him in their second restaurant, a live-in chef position with much kinder hours.

After saving some money through the live-in role, Kerrin decided he wanted to get a job closer to home near his son, and used his experience to get a job at a restaurant in his home town. Kerrin still has aspirations to one day work at a Michelin starred level but is currently enjoying the stability offered to him by this slower approach, giving him meaningful family time and also giving him valuable experience to counter his criminal record for his future.

“At Switchback, people expect you to do things for yourself…that’s what sets you up”