Prior to entering custody, Tina had struggled with addiction for many years, and it had taken a huge toll on her relationships with her family and children. As the end of her sentence approached, she became more withdrawn and easily upset. She confided in prison staff and her Pact worker, Katia, that she was anxious about release. She was unsure about how she would cope in the outside world and had no family or friends to support her.

Katia asked Tina if she would consider meeting Theresa, Pact’s Journey to Freedom Resettlement Keyworker, to talk though how Pact could support her to make the transition from prison to the community. Tina agreed. Recognising women’s anxieties about leaving prison before they are released is hugely important, as we know that many women reoffend intentionally so that they can be recalled to the relative ‘safety’ of prison.

Theresa travelled to the prison to meet Tina and Katia, and together, they formed a plan to motivate Tina and help her to regain her confidence about resettlement and life after release. Katia immediately noticed a change in Tina – she seemed much more positive and prepared for the day of her release.

On the day Tina’s release, COVID restrictions meant that Theresa was not able to meet her at the gate. Instead, they kept in hourly contact by phone and video call. Theresa sent Tina a release pack containing a face mask, antibacterial gel, and other practical items for the day. She explained social distancing and mask wearing and guided her by phone across the city – from the prison to her probation appointment, and then on to her temporary hostel placement.

Tina was very anxious all day and worried that she would be recalled to prison if she arrived late to any of her appointments. But Theresa reminded her of the progress she had made so far and that she was well prepared and in control. They had planned Tina’s journey with plenty of time to spare, and Theresa called the hostel to let them know that Tina was on her way. When she arrived, the hostel staff came out to meet her, and she was able to settle in for the night at her new accommodation.

Tina had left prison with very little money, no change of clothes, and no food or toiletries. Theresa arranged a grant from Pact’s Welfare Fund for Tina so that she had the essential items she needed delivered to the hostel, including meals, bedding, a kettle, and a microwave.

Over the next few weeks, Theresa supported Tina with setting up a Universal Credit claim, helping her with reading and writing as well as using her smartphone. She then helped Tina to apply for an advance payment on her claim to prevent further hardship, and they arranged a regular delivery from the local food bank.

Since the early days of release, Tina has grown in independence and confidence. She has now signed a tenancy agreement and is about to move into permanent accommodation. Theresa is also empowering Tina to access funding to furnish her new home and manage her finances.  Tina has registered with a local GP and dentist, set up her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and accessed support from Step Change to manage her debts. Although she is currently unable to work, she has been looking for suitable voluntary positions to build her skills and employability.

With support from the Forward Trust, Tina is attending monthly drug and alcohol meetings, and taking the medication she needs to manage her health condition. She has regained self-confidence and pride in her appearance by completing an exercise challenge, walking up and down the hill near her home several times a week. Theresa is keeping in touch, but contact is reducing as Tina continues to thrive in her life after custody.

Tina told us:

I want to thank Pact for organising my support. You’ve given me such a good mentor. Without your wonderful work, I would be going downhill, not upwards. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me – thank you, thank you.