We were no doubt naïve, but we found it all too easy to assume that a prisoner, when released from jail, would feel unabated joy. For some, the readjustment brings bewilderment and confusion. After 20 years in prison, Mr Wong*, in his 70s, was one who struggled to re-enter normal life. For two decades, every decision had been made for him and Mr Wong now felt baffled and perplexed when even small choices were placed in front of him.
We met Mr Wong when he visited us with his Social Welfare case worker. ‘Shopping’ for such people in our warehouse is quite similar to shopping in a department store, except that we don’t charge them any money for the goods they take! Our staff took Mr Wong around the warehouse, showing him the variety of high quality donated furniture we had on offer.
It was clear, though, that even this was hard for Mr Wong. His case worker patiently helped him as he agonised over each decision, measuring to see what would fit and choosing the kinds of furniture that were most appropriate: a bed, cabinets and more. Finally, he left with a van filled with the goods and we rejoiced that, together, we had helped this man begin again.
At Crossroads, we love to work with the Social Welfare Department in cases such as Mr Wong’s, where the community’s most vulnerable are relying on help.
*Name changed. Photo is a representation only.