[Names have been changed to preserve anonymity]

Karen was referred to Shine Womens Mentoring Service by her Criminal Justice Social Worker. She was on a community payback order and her social worker indicated that Karen was not complying with this. She was not turning up to prearranged appointments, and was going out with friends from house to house drinking alcohol. Karen’s offending was alcohol related, as she was making poor choices and had low confidence and self-esteem. When Karen’s mentor met her for the first time, she admitted that she binge drinks when she is with her friends.

Karen had a brain scan in the summer and was told there was a shadow on one side of her brain.  Her GP had spoken to her about the scan results but she did not fully understand what he said. She was very concerned about her health and was convinced that there was a serious problem.

Her mentor suggested that we visit her doctor together and ask for specific information. Karen was very pleased that her mentor was going to accompany her as she did not want to speak to the doctor on her own again. As the scan was carried out almost a year ago the doctor referred her for another to check whether or not things had worsened since last year.

Karen was very nervous as the consultation date drew nearer as she was still convinced there was something seriously wrong with her brain. Karen and her mentor remained in close contact at this time as she was worried about what the consultant would say. She was already taking anti-depressants and would occasionally binge drink for days at a time. She said this was her way of coping with the stress her condition was causing. Karen was very relieved after speaking with the consultant, as her assured her that the shadow was not causing any damage to her brain and should not adversely affect her health in any way.

At her first review Karen had signed an Action Plan which had three action points. Her first priority was her health and she wanted to find out as much as she could about the shadow on her brain. She also wanted to get fitter and had obtained a gym pass from her social worker. She had been to the gym a few times and felt better for taking exercise. Karen wanted to build her confidence and self-esteem, so her mentor gave her information on groups and classes in South Lanarkshire but, as Karen lives in a rural area it was impractical for her to travel to these. However, South Lanarkshire Council received funding specifically aimed at women offenders and a ‘Hub’ group was being set up in the village where she lives.

Although Karen has not stopped drinking, progress has been made as she has not committed any further offences during this period. After much discussion Karen signed a new Action Plan which incorporated four points. She agreed to resolve health issues as they arise and to think about alcohol counselling. Karen is hoping that the ‘Hub’ will offer courses on confidence building and self-esteem, so her mentor agreed to contact her social worker to ask if these kinds of sessions could be included. The fourth point of the Action Plan focuses on Karen’s future. She knows she needs to fill her time with positive things but they need to be things that she enjoys. After discussion she agreed that she doesn’t know herself well enough to be able to say what kind of activities she likes so her mentor asked if she would consider Venture Trust’s ‘Next Steps’ course. She agreed to meet a representative from Venture Trust to discuss. Karen said she would be interested in volunteering at an animal sanctuary not too far from her home, and she agreed to contact the sanctuary and ask if they would consider her.

Her mentor contacted Venture Trust and one of their workers agreed to meet Karen and her mentor. Karen was very interested in what she heard and is booked on Venture Trust’s ‘Next Steps’ course, and she contacted the animal sanctuary who sent her an application form for volunteering.