Diana* had a bad start to the year. She suffered from depression and was finding it very difficult to adjust to having her two sons back in her full time care following time in prison.
With a history of 50 convictions over the past 20 years, ranging from shoplifting to more serious offences such as Grievous Bodily Harm, her most recent prison sentence was for a conviction of shoplifting. Time and again these offences were to fund or as a consequence of her drug habit.
Over the last few years she has worked hard to manage and become clean of her drug habit, with the aim of regaining custody of her children.
However, on completion of this recent prison sentence, Diana faced being separated from her family again. With her children being cared for by family members and social services, Diana would not be considered as in priority need of housing for herself, and would therefore be unable to live with her children.
Her experiences prove that it is often really hard for women leaving prison to adjust to the outside world. Luckily for her she is supported by the Re-Unite project, which helps reunite mothers with their children when leaving prison.
Delivered by Housing for Women in partnership with Commonweal, her story shows that perseverance, determination and support are key to ensuring families stay together and get their lives back on track.
Diana would often not turn up for scheduled key work sessions and was aggressive towards her Support Worker. “Eventually after several warnings and as a last resort we had no alternative but to serve her with a Notice to Quit,” says her Support Worker. “We tried so hard to turn things around and I really did not want this to be the end of Diana’s involvement with Re-Unite.”
Thankfully, after careful explanation of what this might mean for Diana if she did not improve her relationship with the project she decided to give it one last try.
With support from Re-Unite, Diana worked extremely hard to get her son enrolled in a Special Educational Needs school as he was not coping in a mainstream school environment. She also took the advice and guidance of her Support Worker to get her and her sons bereavement counselling as while she was in prison, their father, her partner, had been murdered.
The boys are now both doing much better in school and have also joined a local football team and Scout group. Diana rarely misses an appointment with her Support Worker or with any other professional she is working with without good reason.
“I was all over the place, as you can imagine. I still have bad days but overall I am enjoying being a good parent to my boys and providing them with a brighter future,” she said.
Diana is doing so well that she has been approved for move-on and is currently awaiting a suitable property for her and her family in the local area.
*name changed for confidentiality