David Haze: From Imprisonment to Freedom Through Adventure

“Life is not about money, it is about living your happiest life and embracing that”

My name is David Haze and I am a consultant within the criminal justice system who advocate for reform centred around rehabilitation. Having made mistakes, and spent time in prison, I have had to undertake a journey of self-discovery to get to the point where I am today. 

Going back to the start, however, I spent much of my childhood in boarding school. My father passed away in the military three months before I was born and my Mum struggled to move on. For me personally, not having a Dad did create an empty space. For my Mum, it resulted in her pushing me away and I think that was one of the factors in me going to boarding school.

Here, I spent much of my time adventuring. This could involve playing in the woods or putting on camo gear. This was a positive time in my life and I made really close connections with the teachers and the other students. My time at school left me with my own dreams of being in the military, especially the marines.

However, I also had a talent for music and I ended up pursuing this route. I studied music at college and subsequently university. I always look back and wonder how my life would have been different if I joined the military. I mean, I had success with my music and got many of the things that I wanted at that age but I never experienced the travelling and adventure of being in the military.

Following this, I ended up moving to London with my girlfriend and getting a job as a forex trader. I was making a lot of money and, from the outside, it looked like I was living the dream. At the same time, my girlfriend was doing really well as a TV presenter. Despite this, my time living the ‘high-life’ came to an end after I was fired, following a fight with my manager.

I struggled to accept this and I didn’t tell anyone. I left each day dressed for work, but instead turned to gambling, alcohol and cocaine. This was truly a horrible time in my life. Eventually, I ended up moving stolen goods for someone that I knew and I was arrested. Despite managing to get another job, when my court date came I had a breakdown and vanished for 5 weeks. My family still did not know anything and the court date had been closing in like a pressure cooker.

At this point, I was struggling to blag it and I wanted to end my life. I felt so much shame. While I never really enjoyed being a forex trader, I struggled to comprehend that I had gone from that to being arrested. After two failed attempts at taking my own life, I turned to burglary as a means of trying to survive. Those 5 weeks were the worst of my family’s lives. I should have reached out and taken the support but I just felt so much shame. When I was eventually arrested for burglary, I ended up running and then I just stopped. I thought, this is not me and I gave myself up.

I ended up getting a 3 year sentence and serving just over a year. While I was determined to turn my life around, I regret that I did not utilise the support within the system. Initially I was scared but then I was just relieved. Relieved to be able to see my family and to not have to lie. In all honesty, prison is horrible and there is minimal rehabilitation. Time away from family should be a sufficient punishment in itself. For a lot of people in prison, they have been knocked back and they just need someone to listen to them.

When I came out I struggled to get a job and tried to hide my experience. Eventually, I managed to get a job at a recruitment agency before starting my own business. I was doing well and I entered into a new relationship. Unfortunately, this quickly turned toxic and I spiralled back into a period of depression and spent all of the company’s money. As a result, I turned back to crime and back to burgling. I was too proud to ask for help and I remember just crying when I was arrested. I felt like I had ruined my life. After being privately educated and completing a degree, this is not the route that I should have been going down. Going to prison is a horrible and dark time, which formed a massive part of my life. This time my sentence was over 5 years and this was a massive wake-up call. Again, I felt shame seeing the old prison officers.

From here, I began my journey of self-discovery, which I am still on. Now, I try to embrace my past, rather than hide it. I want to make my failures in life into positives. My growth began when I met my now boss, Sarah Lewis. This rehabilitation completely changed my life. She treated me like a human and this made me realise who I was.

When I came out, it was lockdown and, in a way, I think that this helped me to avoid slipping back into my old routine. Instead, I began addressing my mental health and got into activities like yoga and meditation. I stopped chasing money and began to appreciate the importance of spending time with family. 

I believe in reform and rehabilitation. Crimes should not define us and we always have the potential to transform our lives. I want to inspire others and I am a big believer in adventure therapy. This means different things for different people but ultimately it is about going outside of your normal routine.

Moving forward, I want to make change through my role as a consultant in the criminal justice system. I am working specifically on probation and I am currently compiling a report about reform. In all honesty, I think that prison made me partly the man that I am today and it helped me to understand myself. If I can take this forward and help one person then I will be happy.

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