Sarah was sentenced to probation after her son failed to attend school and she has used the support she received from CGM CRC to quit cannabis, gain employment and start a new life.
The mum-of-four had never previously been in trouble with the law and was shocked to end up before the courts.
Sarah was supervised on a 12-month Community Order by Lorraine Donnelly, a probation case manager for the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company. She was also sentenced by Magistrates to attend a Problem Solving Court, which is a specialist initiative for female offenders that ensures wrap-around support is provided and orders those sentenced to return every six weeks so their progress can be assessed.
Sarah readily admits that she was struggling. She had developed a chronic cannabis habit and was suffering from depression. She had thought her son was attending school, but admits she wasn’t the best role model.
She said: “I bitterly resented getting sentenced and it was scary going through the courts.
“However, in a funny way I’m pleased it happened because probation has helped me turn my life around.”
Sarah reported to the Safespots Women’s Centre in Wythenshawe which provides support to female offenders.
She said: “At first my attitude was bad. I didn’t think I was a criminal or that I should be there, but gradually after working with Lorraine she’s helped me turn my life around and it has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
“Before I got summoned to the courts, I was smoking cannabis all day. I was being silly and doing stupid things.
“I’ve quit cannabis and got a decent job. My children can see a massive difference in me and I’m so much happier.”
Sarah had been struggling on Universal Credit which meant she was living on £170 per month before the offence. Lorraine referred Sarah to Achieve, an organisation that supports people into employment. Achieve’s Natalie Flack helped her prepare for job interviews and found an opportunity via Procure Plus which creates employment opportunities with housing associations for people who have been outside the job market and need help finding work.
Sarah, who was raised in care from the age of nine, said: “I suffered a very abusive relationship. After we split up I struggled, a doctor said I had clinical depression, I lacked motivation and was lethargic. I slipped into a rut.
“Lorraine helped me out of that rut. She made me realise I could achieve things. I worked hard for the interviews, I got the job. Lorraine made this possible. She is an amazing, wonderful lady.”
Sarah is now an apprentice painter and decorator and has enrolled on a two-year college course to help her progress. Sarah’s son successfully completed school and is now studying diagnostics at college.
Lorraine said: “Sarah has worked hard to address what was wrong with her old lifestyle. She engaged with all agencies at the women’s centre and benefited from their support and her confidence has grown.
“To indicate just how far she has come, Sarah is supportive of the other women who attend the centre and motivates them within group work settings. She is a shining example of how by using the support on offer and working with the Problem Solving Court – women can turn their lives around.”
Sarah said: “I think I smoked so much because I was bored, depressed and was struggling to cope with bad experiences. I’ve kicked the habit, it was hard, but now I feel 100 per cent better and I feel good about myself for the first time in a long time.”