John's Story

Founder, Inside Connections

I became involved in criminality at the age of 11 and grew up on a north Liverpool council estate in the 1980s where smack was rife. When I was 16 in the 80s we had nothing and whilst playing in the streets I always remember seeing Heroin addicts and drug dealers, the dealers would always get my attention in there designer clothes and driving fancy cars.

There were no jobs in the 80s for us and before long I was enjoying the lavish lifestyle, one that I had dreamt of as a child, a life that I always thought I would have but not one that was eventually funded by a thriving drugs business.

It was a life that eventually caught up with me and I was jailed for 12 years after heading up a drug gang. I was sent into the system as a Category A prisoner inside Strangeways, where I had to mix with convicted murderers and terrorists.

I deserved to be in prison, I did something stupid and I had to pay the price for it

I finally walked out a free man in 2017, I had spent many hours planning a way to help fix the prison system and support other people from a similar background, I could now finally set up my company called Inside Connections.

I witnessed many problems when I was inside, repeat offending I believe to be one of the biggest problems, then there is the drug Spice this was just starting out and now it is really bad, Spice is a mixture of chemicals and is killing approximately 20-25 people per year, I also believe I can help reduce violence in prison through the use of technology.

I knew I needed to create a system that would help

When you demonstrate the desire to change it gives other people hope and an ambition to also change. I understand that what I did was wrong and that when I look back I was dealt two paths, I clearly took the wrong one, it took years for me to change my attitude towards criminality and society, I hope that doing something positive for my wrong doing will help benefit a lot of people and the system,

To say that I’m passionate about reform and rehabilitation is an understatement

I designed the Inside Connections app to be totally outward-looking, open-minded, and with a global reach. I put families and communities back at the heart of reform and rehabilitation, through carefully considered supported programmes in housing, education and training for job opportunities.

I believe that we need to support those individuals who want a second chance with both hands