Brother (written 2010)





Having grown up in children's homes and foster care it is suprising that I did not know I had a brother until I was perhaps sixteen years of age. It was not the Social Services who informed me of this news, nor was it my foster carers or even my biological mother - it was my sister, who had made contact with him herself much earlier (they were introduced after she was placed in the same childrens home as he). Having had sporadic contact with my sister whilst growing up within my second foster home perhaps I chose not to want to know - I had a family, what I would have perceived at that time to be a 'normal life,' - or as close to. Anyway with reference to this sibling, whom I shall refer to as Harry Jones, my first meeting with him occurred after I had left foster care at the age of sixteen years. At this point I was regularly visiting my biological mother with my sister, and one Saturday it was arranged for my brother and his children to visit our mothers address at the same time. From what I had heard of Harry from my sister he had done well for himself - he was living with his then partner and had a full time job, a stable lifestyle and two daughters. My memories of the meeting that took place are distant and clouded - it was obviously quite difficult to form a relationship with a new 'brother' whom had been absent from my life for so many years....

It was my understanding that Harry, who was a couple of years older than myself, was not immediately placed in local authority care at birth. His father may have been a farm worker but he did not remain once he learned of our mothers pregnancy - and she would have been barely seventeen at the time she fell pregnant. Now, it is my understanding that she struggled to cope with childcare once he was born, and so Harry went to live with one of her sisters. For reasons still unbeknown to me Harry ended up in local authority care, which inevitably involved him spending time in children's homes (although neither myself or my sister come across him during our initial period in these establishments).

Contact with Harry over the prevailing years (since our initial meeting) was somewhat limited - although following my permanent return to the area (after the completion of further education) this contact increased. Time socialising and getting to know him and his family (children and then partner) increased - and perhaps this period (1996 - 1998) formed the basis of what I would consider to be a recognised siblingship. Of course much of our time would have been spent in the pubs in town and we shared a similar group of friends at that time. I can always remember him wanting to be Liam/Noel Gallagher - he and a few of his mates had formed a band and built a studio in the top room of his family home. The guy was short, looked nothing like myself or my sister and a little on the weighty side, yet he styled his hair in the same manner as his hero (one of the two Gallagher's) and strummed his guitar as he and his bandmates dreamt of playing before adoring fans (it brings a smile to my face as I describe it). One particular memory that amused me most was in his attempt to talk with a mancunian accent - 'alright our kid' - I thought he sounded more like a Welshman but I didn't want to burst his bubble! He would often talk attempt to use this accent when tallking socially - yet this accent would drop off when he forgot to put the effort in. Now at this time (or just before) Harry had regularly used Cannabis. However his misuse of drugs changed considerably with the onset of the band and the dream of stardom came the introduction of a new drug - Heroin.

Recall - Oasis heyday


One of the clearest memories I have of Harry and his band days was as follows: He and his fellow members were in position in his little attic room. I stood there and listened to their rendition of Champagne Supernova and if the truth be told it wasn't all that bad! However what was bad was Harry's hair and voice - he was handy on the guitar. It didn't however result in superstardom.

The emergence of his Heroin use ultimately brought down all that Harry had worked for. Here was a man who had grown up in the care system, a young man who had established a family, held down a full time job, enjoyed a stable home, supportive friends and a newly established family network. The onset of Heroin use was, in my view, linked to his perception of his 'rocker status' and in his defence I am unsure as to whether or not he actually introduced the substance to his other band members. For Harry, this Heroin use was part and parcel of his new lifestyle, and it would be curtailed to 'weekends only.' However neither he nor his bandmates were able to control this substance abuse - and from my recollection three of these bandmembers (inclusive of Harry) ended up with long term Heroin dependancy. As his Heroin use began to escalate in frequency, spiraling out of control, the rest of his life seemed to implode - his relationship broke down, and with this came the loss of his home and contact with his children. At this point I was unable to witness his free fall as I had just embarked on a University degree - yet when visiting home during holiday periods I still had contact with him. Harry appeared either unmotivated or unwilling to address this habit - he simply sought to sustain it and utilise any source to feed it. When retuning for one holiday period Harry had secured his own accommodation - to walk into a small flat with nothing but a bed and a chair in it clearly displayed how much he had fallen and how much he had lost.

In and around 2001 Harry informed me that he had began to supply Heroin to other users. At that time I was nearing the end of my degree and had a dissertation to complete. Despite highlighting the dangers of this and the potential consequences for himself he chose not to listen to reason. Due to the personal nature of what was going on at that time and the very nature of the Degree (Criminology) I made the decision to use Harry as part of assessing the increased levels of Heroin use at a local level.

See observation on Harry

See Heroin study conducted at a local level


I think that what must be stressed at that point in time were the following factors: (i) Harry was involved in the supply of Heroin to others. He was dealing in large sums of money on a daily basis - and with this came increased levels of personal use. (ii) Harry had introduced Heroin to his sister (she had two children at the time) and made sure that she was supplied. (iii) He had offered me Heroin on several occasions. This was man who was not concerned about the impact this substance had upon his own life or anyone else around him. His days as a dealer/runner were short - he fell out with a local supplier who accused him of using/losing a significant amount of Heroin. However this did not cease his activity of using Heroin, and he eventually gave up his flat and moved in with his sister - and at the time I had just finished University and was resident there also. This was a period in my life that I struggled to come to cope with physically, psychologically and emotionally - Harry was not only continuing to use Heroin but both he and our sister were consistently lying/deceiving me surrounding their usage. On more than one occasion I had considered reporting my sister to the Social Services (on the basis of potential neglect) - yet it was only on her assurances that she would quit that I held back - and to consider making a referral to the very agency that removed you from your family home brought about a great deal of pressure. These matters were of course not helped by the presence of Harry, who was extremely selfish and deceitful. My stay at the house did not last long - the final act for me was in my brothers attempts to involve me in criminal activity (in the aim of supporting his Heroin use).  This activity that he engaged in eventually led, indirectly, to the end of his Heroin use by way of a custodial sentence, which in my view was well deserved and warranted. My sisters dependance upon Heroin was a lot briefer - and that is another story.

Mock Pre-Sentence Report prior to his incarceration - my view

This period of custody ended Harry's involvement with Heroin use and having worked with a number of Heroin users I am in no doubt that he would have found the steps to abstinence harrowing, demanding and traumatic. There are occasions in which I can recall previously locking him up in the house in an attempt to assist him with his Heroin abstinance, yet in the end custody facilitated his move towards becoming Heroin free. Throughout his time in custody I visited him on one occasion - and I would acknowledge that his transformation (physically and mentally) was remarkable.

Recall - Harry and his mother


Harry's relationship with his mother has never been a positive one - it is clear that he has struggled to make sense of the fact that he was placed in the care system and clearly blamed his mother for this. To his credit he attempted to move on from this and form a relationship with her. On one occasion she asked that myself and Harry look after her home whilst she went away. However upon her return she discovered that her telephone bill was astronomical and that there were a number of discarded needles hidden under her bed. Their relationship has never recovered.

In 2002 Harry was released from prison and claimed he was a changed man. He came out to a new born child and new hopes - and whilst he maintained his abstinence from Heroin he appeared to turn to alcohol to provide that bit 'extra' he no longer had. Whilst Harry was undoubtedly selfish prior to incarceration, his new found cleanliness did anything but reduce this trait. He refused to acknowledge the damage he had caused to other family members (specifically his sister who had also managed to free herself from Heroin) and the victims of his offending/drug supply. To this day this is perhaps one of the reasons why there is still some degree of resentment on my part towards him - Harry caused so much damage to so many people - and he had never apologised for those actions or taken any degree of responsibility. Instead he chose to submerge himself in his own self interest and excessive alcohol use, which brought what I would consider to be new lows (which I will not be drawn into at this time).

Despite these misgivings Harry appeared to excel in other areas once he had left prison - he managed to find work and for a spell lived with me and a third party. These were perhaps the best (yet at times also the worst) days we shared together, or are likely to share, and during that time there were flashes of someone that I could be proud of and/or feel able to call my brother. However more often that not they were soon followed by periods of selfishness, stupidity and dishonesty not only towards others, but also to members of his family. Our paths separated in 2004 and I do feel that a great deal of credit must be given for the way in which he has transformed his life. I would go as far as to suggest that he has finally matured (although it did take him until he reached 30) and has begun to build himself a life. He has of course been in such a position in the past - although given his wealth of experience I feel it unlikely that he would make the same mistakes again.

This is of course an assessment of him that is still in its infancy - very much descriptive and based on my memories and experiences. I will seek to add further content and structure as the remainder of the family members mentioned fall into place.



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