Beyond Recovery is excited to work with women offenders through the Sacro Organisation in Scotland
We are delighted to announce a new project working with the Sacro Organisation in Scotland. After Sacro’s CEO Tom Halpin posted on LinkedIn his willingness to partner with organisations to meet the needs of his service users, Jacqueline Hollows contacted him and offered the services of Beyond Recovery CIC.
A couple of years and a few iterations later we are now delighted to be starting a pilot project with some of the women from Sacro’s Shine initiative.
Shine is a national mentoring service for women offenders. The service is provided as a public social partnership (PSP); a strategic partnership between public and voluntary sector organisations. Sacro is the lead delivery partner and works with seven other voluntary sector agencies: Access to Industry, Apex Scotland, Barnardos, Circle Scotland, Turning Point Scotland, Venture Trust and The Wise Group.
Beyond Recovery will be providing our Insight to Wellbeing 6 week programme to a small group of women who have been through the Shine project and shown interest in this new initiative.
Jacqueline Hollows says:
Shine have partnered us with one of their mentors who will act as the introducer and assist with logistical needs and the development of the programme. The mentor seems just as interested and excited about the project as we are!
One of the reasons I am so excited about this project is the opportunity to mentor one of our newest trainees’, a young woman who has faced the same difficulties and who has experienced transformational change since being exposed to the understanding that Beyond Recovery teach.
You can read about Julie’s story here. Julie will be a major part of the delivery of this programme with a view to enhancing her practitioner skills and eventually running her own programmes.
I met Jacqueline from Beyond Recovery just over a year ago when she came to my hometown, Edinburgh, to give a talk about her work. I’d seen the talk advertised the night before on Facebook and I was intrigued by the title – “A Fresh Look at Thought”.
At that time I’d come to a point in my life where I knew my thinking hadn’t been very helpful or healthy throughout my life. I’d already learned about the connection between thinking/feeling/behaviour as I’d tried quite a lot of different therapies over the years along with lots of coping skills (many unhealthy) and medications (again, many unhealthy and even self-medicating with drugs and alcohol at times). I’d spent 4 weeks in a psychiatric hospital and 3 months in residential rehab, 1 year in supported accommodation and been in and out of various 12 step programmes, diagnosed with depression, PSTD, anxiety, ADHD and borderline personality disorder. I’d spent all of my life, from birth, in abusive environments, first with my birth family in Manchester and then with 2 long term partners with whom I have 6 children.
12 months prior to attending Jacqueline’s talk I had regained custody of my 5 youngest children, they had been placed in the care of their father for 18 months when I was assessed as being no longer able to cope with life’s challenges. Throughout that time I felt very distressed about being separated from my children and fought hard to prove that I was and am a capable mother, I just needed some support. When I finally got the kids back I was overjoyed and felt ready to begin a new life with them.
So, I’d done lots of therapy, stayed clean and sober, ended my abusive relationships and gotten my kids back. We were given temporary accommodation in a really good part of town, I settled the kids into the lovely local school and things seemed somewhat stable and secure. Before long my anxiety and depression returned. I began comparing myself to the people around me and kept my guard up, I felt inferior and found it difficult to connect with anyone. The days began to seem longer and harder but I was afraid to tell anyone that I was struggling, afraid that my children would be removed again. I was constantly living in my head, going over the past and blaming everyone and everything for my state of being, reliving painful memories, or, I would be worrying about the future, the next 5 minutes, the next day, weeks and so on.
That night, during Jacqueline’s talk, my life changed forever. I understand that I’ve just made a big statement but it is the truth. I listened that night as Jacqueline and her colleagues explained in very simple terms how we as human beings experience our lives through our own thinking, from the inside out. To be honest, I didn’t ‘get it’ immediately, but so much of what was being said really resonated within me. Jacqueline spoke of the transformational power within all of us which comes from an understanding of the nature of our experience, realising who we are and letting go of who we ‘think’ we are.
Although I heard these words, I wasn’t completely understanding at first. My mind – my own personal thinking, began questioning what was being said. Could this help ME though? This stressed out, strung out, single mother with more issues than Vogue? I’m extremely happy to report that yes, it can. This understanding can help anyone and everyone. After the talk I chatted briefly with Jacqueline and she gave me her contact details and encouraged me to get in touch with her if I wanted more information. I left feeling much more energetic than when I had arrived, energised with hope.
I stayed in contact with Jacqueline and her colleagues and learned more about their work. They suggested books and other resources and my understanding of the nature of my experiences, past and present became deeper and clearer. My mind felt lighter and life suddenly felt a lot less serious and stressful, even though nothing had changed for me environmentally or circumstantially. In fact, a couple of weeks later I was faced with the challenge of my lifetime when my 10 year old son was seriously hurt in a mountain biking accident. He suffered severe, life threatening head injuries and was in hospital for 4 months, having 2 major brain surgeries and suffering complications including meningitis and sepsis. This was obviously stressful and upsetting to say the least, but my new understanding gifted me the grace of knowing that unhelpful, catastrophic thinking wasn’t going to do me or my son any favours during this time. The hospital staff remarked often on how good and beneficial it was for my son that I was able to remain calm and present even when things were very rough. I was able to fully experience human resilience, my son’s and my own and this too, reinforced my understanding.
A year on and I am no longer riddled with anxiety and depression. Yes, I sometimes get a little anxious or a bit low but I’m always aware that these feelings will pass. I no longer analyse and examine these feelings and give added meaning to them. I’ve made lots of lovely connections and friendships with the people around me (the people I was afraid of connecting with last year, those I felt inferior to and avoided like the plague!) My son returned to school in the new year and I began volunteering in a community women’s project, offering peer support to women affected by trauma, addiction, abuse etc. My focus is on sharing the knowledge and understanding that was given to me by Jacqueline and her colleagues, it’s transformed my life profoundly and I wholeheartedly believe it can be the same for all.
[Sacro is a Scottish community justice organisation which works to create safer and more cohesive communities across Scotland. From providing conflict resolution that prevents disputes from escalating to supporting prisoners on release, Sacro works to reduce conflict and repair harm.]