Katie was looking at an uncertain future when we first met her in prison, towards the end of a 5 year sentence. Anxious and tearful, she told us her story: the abuse she’d suffered at the hands of a violent partner, her struggle with drug dependence and how her 4 children had been taken into care. It was clear the trauma Katie had experienced had badly affected her confidence and self-esteem.
~ Women who experience drug addiction have regularly had abuse and trauma in their lives, often in childhood as well as adulthood. ~
Katie felt she needed to distance herself from her old group of friends – they were still using drugs and she was determined to leave her old life behind – but this left her extremely isolated. With no support network in the community, no house and no income, she was afraid about life after her release.
~ Research shows that women involved in the criminal justice system experience higher levels of poverty, debt, unemployment and homelessness. This is especially true of women from ethnic minority backgrounds. ~
But Katie wasn’t alone. Our Prison In-reach Caseworkers supported her through each step of her release from prison and re-entry into the community. We found accommodation for Katie and provided some second hand items: a sofa, microwave and kitchen table and chairs, all generously donated by the community. We helped Katie to access benefits and the stable income this provided significantly improved her mental health. Working with Katie, we developed a plan that included courses at Anawim through the day and evening activities at home. She began taking part in regular group activities, as well as engaging with our courses three times a week.
~ Anawim provides practical and emotional support that is tailored specifically for each woman we work with. We listen closely and develop a plan to suit their individual needs, no matter how complex.~
Life for Katie is much more stable now. Spending her time in positive and enriching ways has not only helped her leave behind negative influences and habits, but has improved Katie’s mental health and self-esteem. Our course in identifying the signs of a toxic relationship is empowering Katie to feel more confident when choosing a partner or friends, helping her to form positive and healthy connections. Our parenting course is also helping her re-connect with her children and Katie has been able to have supervised contact with them at our onsite creche. She is now looking forward to a brighter future and spending more time together, as a family.
Author: Martha W (Volunteer)