Martin, 47, has been a Listener for seven years.
“I got involved in the prison listener scheme later on in my sentence, through a colleague who was already a Listener.
“It is important to understand the dynamic between talking and listening and how revolutionary that can be.
“In training I remember thinking that the role of a Listener was far more of a skill than I realised. In daily life we’re not taught how to listen and in my opinion it’s a crucial life skill that many people would benefit from “I think I found it quite hard to begin with. It was a bit like driving and learning the theory but it was not until I got on the road that I understood properly.
“At 1am someone might call you because they’re finding things difficult. It’s your job to tease out of them what it is that is bothering them. That’s where the skill comes in.
“The first nights are daunting and I was quite nervous. When you first go out at night you are with someone, more experienced, almost like a co-pilot. This is to build your confidence up. “One of the most rewarding things is if someone says to you: ‘You made a real difference at a time I was really struggling’.
“if someone calls a Listener, they are showing a willingness to help themselves and that is half the battle. Your job is not to send them back into themselves.
“A lot of men need that help before we commit our crimes. Someone may not be just asking for help, it’s about understanding how the process works. It is a skill in itself to ask for help.
If not, people may feel they have no choice then end their lives.
“Being a Listener has made me develop personally. My self-esteem has improved and I can feel myself making a difference just by listening, enabling the other person to talk and get something off their mind, and committing to that process, rather than just waiting for my turn to speak.
“I can see I am doing the right thing.
“It has helped me to listen better to the people in my life who are the most important to me. It gives you the skills to show love.
“it has also helped me in business. Part of any business is making relationships – getting to know a client and listening to them is massive.”