A man who spent a decade in prison for selling drugs is calling on the goodwill of the public this festive season, to give him a second chance. Corey, 50, who was homeless when he finished his prison sentence, is raising £5,000 so that he can train up to become an electrician and give back to those in need. He has been inspired to turn his life around after being made to watch his mum’s funeral from his prison cell in the U.S., saying she ‘always tried to steer him right’ and that he never wants to ‘experience the inside of jail again’. British born Corey had moved to Pennsylvania with his family at the age of 5, before getting involved with gangs and selling drug at the age of 16. He was caught in 2008 and sentenced to 10 years in a US prison. Talking about his experience, Corey said: ‘I was young when I got into it, and saw other people selling drugs, and thought I could make money that way. But since serving time in prison, I have cut ties with all those people and I intend to do things the right way now.’
When Corey’s sentence ended in 2018, he was deported back to the UK, with no chance of ever returning to the U.S., where he’d spent the past 45 years. When he arrived at London’s Heathrow airport, he had nowhere to go and slept in the airport. Describing the ordeal, he said: ‘My children and friends all live in the States and I was alone, with no-one to reach out to. I remember sleeping in the airport that day. ‘Being homeless and away from the people you love can be really tough. During my 10 years in prison, I only saw my children once or twice a year. This was really hard, especially at Christmas, and I massively regret not being there for them.’ Corey wanted to rebuild his life, but like many ex-offenders, he struggled to find work, having been out of his previous trade – construction – for so long. His problems were made worse by his living situation, as he was constantly moving around different homeless hostels. However, he has been referred to the charity Beam, a website that lets members of the public fund job training programmes for homeless people so that they can earn a living.
From homeless ex-offenders like Corey to care leavers, refugees, single mums and army veterans, Beam aims to give disadvantaged individuals a chance to turn their lives around. Today, Corey has launched a campaign to raise £5,000 so that he can complete his relevant NVQ qualifications to become an electrician. While in prison, Corey experienced the deaths of a number of friends and family members, including his grandfather and stepson, which gave him a whole new perspective on how precious life is. But the biggest loss of all was his mother. He said: ‘My mother died three years ago, and I wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral because I was in prison. ‘I had to watch it on a VCR tape in a room by myself. She’s been my biggest supporter from day one. ‘Her death really knocked me to the core and took everything out of me. I’m still trying to rebuild myself from that moment.
She’s always tried to steer me right. I’ll never want to experience the inside of jail again – I’m not going to do anything that’s going to jeopardise my freedom. I’m turning my life around because of her.’ Corey says he wants to use the skills he would acquire as an electrician to ‘give back to the community’ whether it be through free electrical work for charities or people in need. He added: ‘I want people to know that I will never take for granted this second chance I’ve been given, and I hope that by putting my skills to good use by helping others, I can show how grateful I am.’ Beam’s Founder and CEO Alex Stephany said: ‘Homelessness affects a diverse range of people from ex-offenders like Corey to care leavers, refugees, single mums and army veterans. ‘If we can help support people like Corey into meaningful work, we believe they will be more grateful and determined than most to make a success of any opportunity given to them.’ If you’d like to donate to Corey’s campaign, and help him on his way to becoming an electrician, you can do so here.