“My motivation is to help people. I was in prison for 26 years, and no one helped me.”
Sam is one of the main coordinators for Helping Hands. He first participated in ESC programs in the Maze prison in 2003, when Tom Magill led a drama group for prisoners. He took part in the production of Mickey B, and has been involved in multiple programs and film projects through ESC since then.
Sam was released from prison in 2009, and since then has been a full time volunteer with Helping Hands, where he coordinates programs and works to provide a welcoming presence for anyone who walks in the door and needs help. “Lots of people come to us when they won’t go to government agencies, because we have walked that path when others haven’t. They know they can come to us, and they can tell us anything and we’ll understand.”
Sam’s major motivation in working with Helping Hands is the satisfaction that he feels in seeing even one person turn their life around. Sam has helped several people to find housing and supportive social workers, and has worked with young people to help re-direct them away from anti-social behavior.
Sam says, “It gives you pride in what you do. You spend so many years having people tell you you’re worthless, and now we can do this and prove them wrong. Because now I’m here to help people, to use my life experience to help people. I’m qualified to give advice because I’ve been there.”
In addition to running programs through Helping Hands, Sam is also a participant in projects. His current favorite is the Reader’s Organization, and he hopes to someday become qualified to lead these groups in reading discussions and healthy debate, stretching the mind and encouraging an understanding of how other people experience the world.