Mon, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid work on Community Payback in her home town of Hull. Since then she has discovered a new strength in her self and recently became a peer mentor helping other through their probation. Mon tells her full story here:
“I remember the day in court I was so frightened. I had never been in any sort of trouble in my life before, and there I was stood in front of a judge waiting to be sentenced. The thought of going to prison was the worst feeling I have ever had in my life. I was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 160 hours of community payback.
“I had a very supportive family and friends , as we left the court my daughter said to me at least you are coming home. I will never forget the look on her face. Yes, I was not going to prison, I was so relieved. Then it hit me: I had to do Community Payback. How would I get through this as I hadn’t left my house in six months apart from going to court? How would I be able to go out in the streets of Hull with all these other offenders.
“The week before I attended my first day at the unpaid work site I cried for a full week. Sad to say I even thought of just ending everything there and then. Surely, I could not get through this, could I?
“When the day came, and I arrived at the pickup point I looked at all those people and thought: “I can’t do this I am not like them”. I was so scared. I was introduced to the supervisors who explained what we would be doing and how I could get through my order. I listened but it meant nothing to me because I repeatedly kept thinking: “I can’t do this – I really can’t”.
“As we set off to the unpaid work site my anxiety was kicking in stronger. The supervisor tried to reassure me but all I kept thinking was “I can’t do this”. Finally, the day ended, and I found myself back at my home trying to make sense of the experience I had just gone through. I felt mortified and depressed. I asked myself: “Is this all worth it? People might see me next time”.
“I made sure I wore a baseball cap and sunglasses all the time. I went back for the second time and a third time, still feeling the same way. In fact, feeling worse sometimes. I had so many hours to do, one day a week and I thought it would take forever to finish. The only good thing was that the work I was doing was in doors, so no-one could see me. I hated it so much.
“Despite still wearing my cap and glasses I starting to enjoy it or was I just confused? No, I was enjoying it. I remember thinking the sun is shining and I am out and about. I could not believe that I was starting to look forward to going to unpaid work. I even started doing an extra day on the advice of my supervisor”
“After four weeks I turned up to be told I was going out with another supervisor. Although I did not have a problem with the supervisor it was just that I knew the work he did was litter picking in the street. I thought: “Why me? Why do I have to go on the street? People will see me!” The supervisor knew how scared I was, but week in week out he supported me.
“Despite still wearing my cap and glasses I starting to enjoy it or was I just confused? No, I was enjoying it. I remember thinking the sun is shining and I am out and about. I could not believe that I was starting to look forward to going to unpaid work. I even started doing an extra day on the advice of my supervisor.
“I found myself encouraging other in the team asking them: ‘It’s not bad here is it?’ Who would have thought? Scared depressed me, telling people it’s not that bad? I started to think and feel differently towards things. I still had a long way to go to build my confidence back up but week by week I was encouraged to do more by my supervisor, slowly I started to walk in the street a bit further each time. I even walked down the pathway of a main road. That sounds like nothing I know, but to me it was a massive achievement.
“One day my supervisor asked: ‘Where’s your hat and glasses?” I had left them in the bus. Then it hit me, and I realised: ‘I can do this. I really can’. Gaining in confidence, I enjoyed chatting with other service users even telling them bits about my journey to try to ease their worries and anxieties. I heard myself saying if I can do this so can you.
“My supervisor said he thought I would make a good peer mentor giving me a chance to share my experience and support others in similar situations. Although I didn’t fully understand what the mentoring scheme was about, I thought if I can support one person like my supervisor supported me then I am in.
“Finally, my last day of unpaid work arrived – you would think I would be happy. But I wasn’t, and I did not want to leave because I was happy there. I cried on my first day and I cried my last day, but for totally different reasons.
“When I was offered a place on the peer mentor scheme I was really exited to be able to support others like me. But the peer mentor scheme is so much more than that, it is life changing”
“When I was offered a place on the peer mentor scheme I was really exited to be able to support others like me. But the peer mentor scheme is so much more than that, it is life changing. Not only do I get to support others, but I also get an opportunity to make a difference in shaping provision and delivery. I am learning so much, I’ve been given so many opportunities that have totally changed my outlook on life.
“I still get to go back to unpaid work each weekend and help support the supervisor and service users on site. I’m also starting a new role putting constructive activities on at William Booth Hostel to help inspire and support homeless people back into independent accommodation. I am also a member of the User Voice council where I get to identify gaps in provision and share ideas that will benefit service users with Martin Davis, the chief executive of HLNY CRC.
“I’m finally looking forward to starting new chapters in my life, and it’s all down to my supervisor on unpaid work, the mentor coordinator and commitment from me of course.”