“The staff made me realise that I can trust people and I can control my anger. I like to think that I am now a nice person, but I could not have done it without the incredible team at Tŷ Cornel.” Those are the words of service-user, Ray pictured here with Sharon Clarke, Site Lead at Tŷ Cornel.
This is Ray’s story:
Ray moved into our Tŷ Cornel service, a supported living project providing 24/7 onsite support and care to six individuals, in 2020 after his latest release from prison.
Overtime, Ray began to trust the support workers helping him and started to share information about his past. He told them about some of the horrific abuse he had experienced by people who were supposed to protect, nurture and look after him.
From the age of three, Ray was beaten by his father and neglected by his mother who was an alcoholic. As a young teenager, Ray would get into trouble on purpose in the hope that he would be sent to a borstal, a custodial institution for young offenders. This was his way out from the continued daily beatings and abuse suffered at home.
Ray developed anger issues and would see everyone as an enemy, using violence as his only coping mechanism. This resulted in Ray first going to prison at the age of 18. Over the last thirty years Ray has received 256 convictions for violence.
Due to his challenging behaviour, Ray had been banned from every hostel in Cardiff and even the hospital. With nowhere else to go, Tŷ Cornel was Ray’s only hope when he came out of prison.
When Ray first moved in to Tŷ Cornel, times were very difficult as his behaviours were unpredictable. This was a man who had to fight his way through life or get beaten himself. He was very institutionalised and angry at society.
Colleagues at Tŷ Cornel gave him stability, showed kindness and compassion, which is something Ray had never received before. As he started to trust the team and open up, he agreed to attend anger management therapy. Slowly, over the period of two years, Ray came off probation which was the first time since he was 18 years old.
To mark this special achievement, the team at Tŷ Cornel presented Ray with a certificate which brought him to tears; he had never been praised for anything in his life before now.
Ray’s lifetime goal was to have his own front door keys, a place where he could call home. With help from the Supported Accommodation for Independent Living (SAIL) team and our outstanding team at Tŷ Cornel, Ray moved into his own flat last week.
Speaking about his time at Tŷ Cornel, Ray, said: “When I first came to Tŷ Cornel, I was a monster. I just thought of my room as another cell and was just waiting to be thrown out.
“But for the first time in my life, Sharon and the team had faith in me and showed me that it is possible to change. I never thought I would have my own place and if it wasn’t for the team, I would be back in prison. They have changed my life around.”