Mandy Warren, 28, found herself unemployed following a conviction for assault in her home town of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.
Mandy, who now has a full-time job in IT support in Lincoln, was handed down a 24-week sentence suspended for 12 months and 150 hours unpaid work through Community Payback.
Across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire people on probation complete roughly half a million hours of Community Payback every year. All projects combine hard work and the chance for the participant to develop skills. It is also a punishment as the individual is giving up their time to carry out the work.
“If I am honest Community Payback was the best thing to happen to me at that time,” says Mandy. “I lost my job after the court case and doing unpaid work got me back into a routine. I was working on a range of projects on Community payback mainly at the local hospital.
“While doing unpaid work I was continuing to look for a job and was lucky to get a job where I help customers over the phone sort out any IT issues.”
“It’s really empowering for me as I feel I can give something back reinforced by my own experiences. I can show them that once you’ve done what you’ve done and completed you sentence the book can be closed and you can move on”
Mandy said working on Community Payback made her realise she wasn’t on her own as she interacted with other people who had been sentenced by the courts – “these are not bad people they’ve just made a mistake and are now paying the price”.
She says: “I also learned I was good at listening to people and offering advice and that’s when I started to consider becoming a peer mentor.”
As a peer mentor Mandy says she enjoys supporting service users and helping them change their behaviours and stop offending: “I help put in place the stepping stones to help them overcome mental issues, drug abuse and other support,” she says.
“It’s really empowering for me as I feel I can give something back reinforced by my own experiences. I can show them that once you’ve done what you’ve done and completed you sentence the book can be closed and you can move on.
“At one time I did consider going to university to study criminology but my experience with the Humberside, Lincolnshire & North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (HLNY CRC) has me now thinking about becoming a probation officer or prison officer.”