Once upon a time, four simple and immensely powerful words. From a really early age, we were exposed to the magic of storytelling. Since human beings first walked the earth, we’ve been sharing stories, warning each other of mortal danger, teaching right from wrong, inspiring our tribe to action. The latest science tells us that when we hear a story, our bodies produce the hormone oxytocin and we instantly start to form a connection with the person that we are listening to. Stories bind us together and help make sense of our experience.
Jamaal Kadeem Cox (1992) He grew up in Harlesden, North West London. His parents divorced when he was still in Primary school. Jamaal and his father stayed close at first, but as his father settled with his new family, their time spent together began to deteriorate. He was an active kid in school; he took part in all the festive plays, after-school sports, drama and choir club. After secondary school, Jamaal attended Harrow Weald College to study I.T software, but due to his older siblings’ imprisonment, he dropped out of college to support his mother and his two younger sisters. Jamaal had a best friend who lived on the same road as them since the age of seven years old and who passed away in 2009. Jamaal was left on his own again. Lost with nowhere and no one to turn to, Jamaal fell into a life of crime. In 2011 he was sentenced to two years and two months in HMP. Once he was released, his father took him out of London and soon, feeling lonely again, he succumbs to mental health issues. After hitting rock bottom, Jamaal’s father sat him down, and they spoke for days, weeks, months, talking about their past, presence and future. Thanks to the sharing of life stories between father and son, Jamaal set out to start life again and live life on his own terms, accepting life’s heartaches as a lesson and appreciating the journey, not focusing on the destination too much. Jamaal realised that his father’s story had set him on a path to help and inspire others to reach their goals, no matter what state you are in. Jamaal is here for you now, as Jamaal’s father was there for him at his lowest point.