Stephen Bell believes probation has helped stop him reoffending after getting a 47-month jail sentence for selling cannabis and cocaine.
The 32-year-old, from West Horton, Bolton, is being supervised on licence by Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CGM CRC) probation case manager Nadine Roberts.
Stephen got into trouble after developing a drug habit and running up debts. He turned to growing cannabis and dealing drugs to help him pay off what he owed. Police searched his house after a tip-off and found a cannabis farm and two ounces of cocaine.
Stephen, who had never previously been in trouble with the law, served 19 months in custody and was released on an electronic tag with a curfew. He is supervised at CGM CRC’s Bolton office.
He said: “Jail was a shock to the system. A couple of weeks into my sentence I realised I had to sort myself out. I got my head down, quit my drug habit and left prison with 37 qualifications.
“I turned to drugs after my grandad died but I was just wasting my life.”
Stephen also started to get fitter and took up street soccer while in custody. After being released he has taken part in charitable fitness events including a mammoth bicycle ride to Blackpool and back followed by a midnight walk through Manchester as part of a 24-hour sponsored event for the Street Soccer Academy.
Stephen said: “Nadine is the best probation officer in the world. When I was first released, she met my mum and visited my flat and made sure I was approaching everything with the right mentality.
“She is there for me to talk with when I’m down, she has lots of good advice and knowing that she is in my corner means a lot to me.”
Stephen went straight into employment on leaving prison and believes that his job, exercise and probation have been three elements that have combined to help him turn a corner.
Nadine said: “Stephen realised that his old lifestyle was getting him into serious trouble and to his credit he has taken steps to address that. He has engaged with a host of courses and the charitable events he has participated in have been fantastic.
“I am proud of the positive changes Stephen has made to his life and the progress he has made.”
To donate to the charity Stephen is raising cash for please click this link.