[Names have been changed to preserve anonymity]
Amanda, 22 years old, was recently liberated from Cornton Vale after serving a sentence for assault to injury with intent to rob. This was her third time in prison. Amanda was first introduced to Shine when she was on remand and her mentor has worked continually with her for seven months, and will continue this work for another six months now she has been released. She is currently pregnant with her second child.
Amanda’s mother died when she was six and shortly after so did her father. From a young age she was raised by her grandmother with support from her maternal aunts. By her own admission Amanda was “a nightmare teenager”, with non-attendance at school, and running away from the family home. At the age of 20 Amanda fell pregnant, but the relationship was volatile with Amanda being on the receiving end of domestic violence. Amanda cared for her son, however became involved with drug taking, consumption of alcohol and this impacted on the care she could give her son. She voluntarily asked the paternal grandparents to care for her son whilst she attempted to sort out her life.
Together, Amanda and her shine mentor identified the areas of her life that she felt that she needed support with:
- Contact with her first child
- Support through the pending court process
- Emotional support – bereavement and past childhood experiences
- Pre-birth support for unborn child
- Advocacy and support with her social work involvement
- Long term goal of going to college to do social care
Amanda received regular visits from her shine mentor whilst she was in prison and key areas of her life have changed positively.
She is now free from all drugs and alcohol since discovering she was pregnant, and received regular testing with negative results. Amanda has spoken in depth about why she used drugs and alcohol, she is very focused, and does not have any desire after the birth to return to using substances or alcohol.
Amanda received support with Children’s Hearings and although did not achieve her goal of re-establishing contact with her first child, she has understood the importance of engaging with social work and is in the process of requesting letter-box contact. Once her second baby has been born she will ask for a review of contact with her son.
Housing has been a big barrier and involved lots of discussion. After establishing that Amanda had a need for support after liberation she accepted the need to live with her aunt until she feels able to cope and care for her baby, and then aim to live independently, and maintain engagement with social work and other agencies.
Developing and maintaining the worker/service user relationship was hard, however Amanda now feels able to share some of her earlier experiences and when appropriate the mentor has been able to challenge Amanda on her views about statutory services, and the need to be open and honest and encourage engagement with services.
Amanda now speaks positively about her life, and refers to putting her children first before herself. She still has a long term goal of going to college, having a career and making sure her children have a better childhood than she did.
Amanda commented about her shine mentor on the day of her liberation,
‘Thanks for being there, you have always stood by me and done what you said you were gonna do. Some workers just bull***t but you don’t and I know I’ve been a pain at times.