Feltham YOI - Letter from Alex Wheatle

I too, many years ago, stared at four brick walls in a confined space and listened to the clinking of the keys from down the corridor. I too thought my life was over. I too felt I had let down the people that cared for me. I too made wrong choices. But it’s not the end. It doesn’t have to be the end. You have it within yourself to change that end.

For me, it began with the simple task of reading. I learned empathy for others. I discovered different cultures. I read about others who had far worse experiences than me. I read about men and women who inspired me: Malcolm X (who spent time in prison), Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou and so many more. There is always someone who has suffered a worse experience than you. I began to stop feeling sorry for myself. Eventually, I stopped blaming others. It was up to me to change my life. I believed I had to something to offer. I believed I possessed a talent. I didn’t believe I was put on this earth to stare at four walls. That wasn’t my purpose. 

So, in the words of the great Bob Marley, Get Up, Stand Up! Not just for your rights but the talent within you. Stand up for the potential within you. Try and locate it. Use it well.  For it is not the end. Change those perceptions that some people may have of you. Make someone who cares for you feel proud. Of course, there are many barriers. But it’s the amount of times you take your stance again rather than the amount of times you stumble and fall.

It’s not the end. Make sure it’s not your end.

Alex Wheatle

Books