I was fifteen when my big brother first went in to prison
It was really hard at first, and I still struggle with the thought of him being in a prison. I always thought it was for people that had been really bad, and I didn’t think he should be there! My mum told me that sometimes good people do bad things but it was still okay to love him, and that made me feel better. I was really shocked when they said he wouldn’t come home for a few years. He hadn’t lived with us for a long time, and he used to run away a lot and get into trouble all the time, but I never thought he would go to prison!
My mum and dad visited him first without me and my little sister. I really wanted to go to see if he was okay, but I was worried about visiting too. When my mum and dad came back, they were upset but said that he was okay and safe and promised that we could visit soon and told me what to expect.
When I visited, I was able to give him a hug, but he had to stay in his seat the whole time, which was really strange to me. I didn’t know what to say at first and didn’t like being watched by the prison officers and felt like everyone was watching and talking about us. That was only on the first visit though, and it soon became normal. I would visit him every week, speak to him on the phone, and make CDs for him.
Sometimes it was hard to write. I would look at a blank page for hours and would sometimes just draw him a picture instead. It didn’t always get easier; sometimes I would be upset for no reason and not want to speak to anyone.
One day I told a teacher who was really nice and would help me with my homework after school where it was easier to concentrate. I didn’t want to talk at first, and sometimes I would tell my brother I was mad at him, and then I would feel bad because he was in a horrible place.
Now I keep a diary. It helps me get out how I’m feeling and reminds me what I’ve done so I can tell him the next time I speak to him. Julie – 15