Jack Rolf, 26, actor, Brighton.
How did you know about abob?
Originally through probation in 2011 but then my friend Bilau told me that you went to the woods and it was a way of starting the repair process emotionally. I thought I’d have to go for it. I liked the sound of it. And it has changed my life so much for the better.
Tell me a little about your background.
I was disruptive because I had ADHD. I was very naughty at 8. I couldn’t sit still which is an understatement. In my teens, it got worse, I was breaking windows, stealing cars and more. My mum was a great mum but she didn’t know how to cope with me. And she worried a lot about me. If she tried to stand up to me, I’d put a hole in the wall. I was exhibiting controlling behavior but I didn’t realize it at the time.
What happened to your mum?
I was 17 when she took her own life by throwing herself off a cliff in Rottingdean. She didn’t have anyone she could turn to for help with me and my behavior, and couldn’t cope any more. And she’d already tried to kill herself a couple of times before that within the space of three months. I didn’t realize at the time that she was so worried.
And what effect did that have on you?
I spiralled out of control. I was on my own. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. My father’s not around. I ended up hanging out with the bad boys and I robbed a take away biker at knife point and received six years in prison.
Which prison were you in?
Portland mostly. I have to say the staff there were incredible. They were very supportive towards me. I got bereavement counseling. It was a pivotal time for me. I also had a youth offending worker, Jo Bates who gave me so much support and had faith in me. That made a huge difference to who I am today.
You did the Quest in 2012?
I did. I enjoyed the brotherhood, the cooking and the vibes there but I wasn’t ready emotionally to do the work. That came later in the weekly sharing circles.
How have those weekly sharing circles been for you?
Vital. Transformational. They are my sanctuary, I feel plugged in, grounded and connected at them. And they have really helped me to face who I am, and what happened to me in my past. They have been extraordinary.
How was your mentoring experience?
Great. My mentor was Aaron Schwartz who is an actor and a comedian. He had a major calming effect on me. He taught me meditation and chanting. He got me to stand back and go inside, instead of reacting straight away.
And what are you doing with abob now?
I am about to embark on the facilitator’s course. I am excited about that.
How do you feel about this community of men?
Having the other men around, makes me feel strong and not alone. They are a huge support. There were times when I needed work to survive and always someone would come up with some for me. Also when I moved, I had nothing, no furniture so I asked at a meeting, by the end of the week, I had everything. That was incredible.
And what about acting?
My mum encouraged me to act when I was a teenager. She got me into a Saturday group to try to keep me off the streets and trouble. Then I was offered a scholarship doing drama at 14. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. I learnt ballet, tap and more. I was like a Billy Elliot. I did get kicked out after 18 months but it had a lasting effect.
At the moment, I’ve being trying out my own stuff, and I have an agent now. I’ve been going up for ads and have done a few music videos.
How do you feel about your future?
Very positive. Next I want to move to London so am thinking of a way to do that. Abob has been life-changing for me.