Food For Thought

Reformed criminal and now powerful public speaker and motivator Gram Seed lead a frank discussion of his life and prison with students at East Durham College in Peterlee.

Gram, from Middlesbrough, who has spent a total of ten year in prison for a range of offences including football related violence, assault, robbery and theft, was invited to come and talk to the students about his experiences as part of the College’s enrichment programme.

Beth Pearson, Student Liaison Officer at the College, who arranged the visit, said: “We have organised talks about prison for our students for a number of years. I was lucky enough to recently hear Gram talk at an event and thought he’d be ideal to come and speak to our students.

“He is able to describe the realities of prison life in vivid detail to the students; hopefully hearing someone’s real life experiences will help inform our students to make the right choices about their futures.”

Gram’s bleak life of crime started when we he was just nine years old. Knowing nothing except the brutal domestic violence at home he then found a new family in the form of a gang of skin heads when he was thirteen.

After failing to start a new life in Wakefield, he returned to Teesside in 1992. Gram began to drink heavily. Cannabis followed, then crack cocaine and heroin.

Finally, in August 1996 his body gave in and he went into a coma, he was rushed into hospital but survived.

“I could have been killed or died on dozens of occasions but miraculously I’m still alive. I believe I’m alive for a reason and that’s why I do what I do today” said Gram.

Gram came out of hospital and on 9th November 1996 became a Christian. He has been working since then sharing his experiences and nearly four years ago set up his own charity Sowing Seeds.

Sowing Seeds now employees 14 people working on the estates, in prisons, in youth centres and with the families of inmates.

East Durham College students Jamie Lee Iley and Steph Dowson commented: “We think he’s really brave for being so open and honest. We think it will give some students a reality check and point them in the right direction”.

Gram added: “I think the students showed me a huge amount of respect, which gave me the platform to be able to open up my heart and be myself. They interacted well and asked some good questions.

“I can’t directly change any of these young people’s lives but hopefully I might have told them something to help them make the right decision in a situation in the future.”