When Jane first came into contact with us, she was living in a hostel and struggling with mental health issues, including bi-polar disorder, anxiety and panic attacks. Alongside this, she had significant substance abuse issues.
A recent prison leaver, she was extremely vulnerable with a history of domestic abuse from an ex-partner and sex working to support her heroin habit. She had no contact with family or any other form of support.
The first priorities for Jane were to stabilise her accommodation and link her in with health services. Her caseworker helped her to register with a GP and engage with her probation officer to minimise the possibility of her getting recalled to prison. We also helped her sort out her benefits and took her shopping for essentials, with the caseworker advising her on budgeting and making her money last so she could gradually gain independence.
Jane responded well to the support but there were problems. One day when collecting her medication, she was assaulted by a former friend who had encouraged her heroin use and sex working. In the absence of family, this friend had been a source of support – of sorts – allowing Jane to use her flat for sex working.
It was vital that we kept Jane moving forwards and away from negative influences. We helped her focus on achievable goals and helped her emotionally manage her anxiety and panic attacks. The caseworker offered her tools and strategies she could use for avoiding conflict and walk away from any situations which were likely to escalate. She also ensured that Jane kept taking her medication.
Although still vulnerable, Jane is now in a much better place. We will continue to support her to ensure she has the support she needs in place and keeps engaging with it. Without the help St Giles, it is highly likely that Jane would have re-offended, returned to prison for a few months and been caught in the same cycle again when released. She now has the chance to turn a different corner.