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Ex-offender's help for Wiltshire probation service
Ex-offender Garry Gostelow, who turned his life around after 30 years of crime, is helping criminals who find themselves in the same position.
Mr Gostelow, 51, now works as a health advisor for the Wiltshire Probation Service, alongside colleagues who had once helped him through difficult times.
The programme which Mr Gostelow is involved with was championed by chief executive Liz Rijnenberg in her 100th day since she took up her post at the Trowbridge headquarters of the service.
The former offender takes people who are on probation to doctor’s appointments, out shopping and introduces them to normal life outside of the prison environment.
Mr Gostelow, who swapped prison life for a boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal, said: “I have been through the probation system since 1979, so it was a really big thing for me when I ended up working here.
“The help was always there for me, but I wasn’t ready to take it for a long time. When I did, it was nice to have someone there who believed in me.
“Now the work I’m doing is very rewarding. I had one lad recently who had been using the gym in prison but when he came out it was something he wanted to keep up, but didn’t have the confidence. I took him to the gym and now he’s keeping it up.
“I have learned a lot from this job. Probation gave me a chance and now I’m giving others a chance. I’ve had people come back in to thank me when they have moved on with their life.”
Mrs Rijnenberg said: “I think having someone carry out this work, who has been through the system, has got to be a good thing.
“It can be intimidating for people who need to go to a doctor’s appointment or visit the dentist and they quite often don’t know what to do or understand what they are told when they get there.
“It is about giving them access to health services that you and I take for granted.”
Former offenders are given help with doctor’s appointments, getting innoculations, seeing the dentist and encouragement when it comes to eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking and reduce their alcohol intake.
The programme runs until the end of the year, when the service will review the effects of the scheme, which is being trialled in the county.
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