Since Gareth was released from prison last year, he’s flourished. But, he says, without National Prison Radio – and one programme in particular – it would have been very different. “I’ve no doubt The Rock Show saved my life,” he says.
Gareth first came across National Prison Radio, and The Rock Show, while serving an indeterminate prison sentence.
It was 2013 and he had found himself in a prison cell, lost and lonely, unsure when he would be released. That Christmas, he was in a very dark place.
“I was in despair more often than not. It was the anniversary of the death of my son. I was in the depths of therapy. I was quite heavily medicated.
“I have a long history of self-harming. I had it my mind to give up once or twice. I was trying to think of a good reason to keep going. The Rock Show was that reason.”
He loved the music and started to write in – becoming a regular name on the programme.
He would share his feelings with The Rock Show listeners by writing in to National Prison Radio. And they would respond with words of support.
“Often, the presenter would talk about The Rock Show family, referring to us as ‘brothers and sisters’. It was amazing to feel a connection with other people.
“It gave me enough time to get to a place where I could access more support. It was a bridge.”
Since he was released in 2017, Gareth’s life has completely turned around. While in prison, he got to know Learning Together, a criminology course at Cambridge University where students study alongside people who are serving prison sentences. He is now completing his criminology degree, and was a 2017 Longford Scholar.
In December, Gareth attended his first rock gig since release – Five Finger Death Punch at Wembley Arena. “It was incredible,” he says. “It felt like I’d earned that pleasure.”
Rock fans in prison don’t have to write in to be a member of The Rock Show family – they just have to listen. But, like Gareth found, it can be a place where you can not only hear music you enjoy, but get comfort from a group of people facing many of the same issues you are.
Here’s what some of the current Rock Show family have to say about the show.
“I’ve had the worst year of my life. My boyfriend passed away and I was recalled. I lost my flat, my possessions, my job and my freedom. Without The Rock Show I would have cracked up. It helped me channel my emotions and picked me up when I was really down.” – HMP Drake Hall
“If I can explain it like this – if anyone has been to a metal gig and been in a mosh pit, they know that if anyone falls over, they get picked up straight away. That’s what The Rock Show family does for each other.” – HMP/YOI Chelmsford
“Rockers are so passionate about their music – but it’s not available on the mainstream media we get in prison. Being able to listen to The Rock Show massively lifts my mood.” – HMP Winchester
“The Rock Show has massively helped me through my sentence. Not only could I listen to some of my favourite songs, but I also felt connected to The Rock Show family – like-minded people in the same situation.” – HMP Send
“The Rock Show is more than just a radio programme – it’s a place where people who feel a bit different can come together. Being here isn’t fun, but The Rock Show makes it more tolerable.” – HMYOI Brinsford
The Rock Show is broadcast on National Prison Radio every Saturday night at 7pm. Most of the music is made up of requests from listeners – collectively known as ‘The Rock Show family’ – who also share messages of support with each other.