4u2 speaks to Haringey Youth Mentor and Rehabilitation Coach Andre Morgan on how to beat the next lockdown in the New Year. Spending more than 15 years incarcerated, Morgan shares his coping mechanisms and skills on how to stay mentally fit, ensuring the ‘time’ did not serve him’ and he stayed in mental control and harmony. What mental and emotional advice would you give to others who find it difficult being away from their family and friends?
Having a strong sense of faith and a personal relationship with God truly helps in times when you are apart from your loved ones. If you do not have a faith-belief, I would then advise finding a fulfilment, which keeps you focused such as something educational or sports. Something, which keeps your interest and your mind off the fact that you are not with those you long to be.
How has prison shaped you and how have you kept away the negative impact of being in constant lockdo
I am more patient because I had to learn to wait. I am more tolerable because I have had to live with different people. I have kept the negative impact from prison at a bay, by developing and strengthening my personal relationship with God.
What similarities does the pandemic lockdown share compared to being incarcerated – skills you have been able to
I have heard lots of people from various walks of life and ages moan and complain about the pandemic lockdown and I do not have much empathy or sympathy due to my own experience being in prison for 15 years and four months. I remind people that they still have scores of freedoms that those
who are in prison do not share. The ability to open a door, walk out, go in the garden, walk to the shops etc. Therefore, I say to focus on the positives and not look at what you cannot do compared to celebrating what you can achieve during this current global situation.
Best ways to deal with grief or loss when you cannot reach out or express yourself authentically?
When I lost my grandmother during my time away and other close friends, I learnt to talk to my Creator. Simply having a conversation and this brought great comfort. Again, for those who are non-believers find something to distract and focus the mind. As the adage goes ‘what you focus on grows,’ so make your thoughts positive rather than negative. Imprisonment starts and ends in the mind first and foremost.
Since being released, how are you continuing to help fellow inmates or those who has been released? When you come out of prison it is like you
are in a bubble and when the honeymoon period is over it is important to have a clear perspective of life and not feel rejected by others who are busy with their lives. I advise people who have been released especially those who have spent more than a decade to find a routine. Staying idol and not having a positive focal point can create a negative setback and, in some case, creating the reoffending cycle.