Former offender Andrea now supporting others to make positive change

Andrea* was convicted of assault following a dispute that occurred at her place of work and following the incident she felt her life was unravelling.

Andrea had never previously been in trouble with the law and found going before the courts and being sentenced to a 12-month Community Order and 100 hours of Community Payback to be an incredible stressful experience. She was supervised on her order by Joanna Jones, a senior probation case manager for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company.

Andrea said: “I found it really hard to accept that my career had ended and that I was a criminal, but probation’s support helped me through what was a really dark period for me and enabled me to see a future.

“My probation officer was fantastic. She motivated me, she helped me restore my confidence. I thought I would never be able to work with people again, but she gave me hope.”

Andrea completed a behavioural change programme developed by Interserve’s Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) called the Women’s Programme that helps participants stop offending behaviours and make positive changes to their lives.

Andrea said: “Joanna told me that it was possible for me to help deliver the group. I didn’t believe her, I was very depressed at the time and on medication to help me cope, but she encouraged me to become a probation volunteer.”

The Women’s Programme is delivered by two members of staff and Andrea was invited to co-deliver the course in Hampshire. She grasped the opportunity and applied for a Group Facilitator role with the CRC’s interventions team.

Andrea said: “I absolutely love the job and the opportunity to talk with our service users about what they have experienced and how they can make positive changes to their lives.

“The support is there if you can motivate people to want to change. I also know what it’s like to be in trouble and to lose hope, so can share my personal experience about how to change things for the better.”

Joanna said: “At the start of the order Andrea was very anxious. She was always very pleasant, but also quiet. However, the Women’s Programme really helped her and I could see her confidence grow.

“Once she completed her sentence, we invited her to co-deliver the programme and her ability was clear for all to see. She is a credit to the organisation, and I am proud of the progress she has made.”

*Andrea is not the person’s real name.