Sarah’s children were aged just three years and eight months respectively when she was given a six-year prison sentence for drug offences in 2009.
Not only were the children separated from their mother, but also from each other. The eldest went to live with her father in their hometown near Hull, while the youngest was cared for by an aunt hundreds of miles away in the south of England.
Three years later, as Sarah approached her release date; her number one priority was to reunite her family. She was determined to start the difficult process of undoing the emotional damage caused by the separation of the family at such a critical stage of their lives. She was referred to the Re-Unite project in Yorkshire who agreed to help her.
On release, Sarah stayed with a friend for a few weeks while Re-Unite set to work. The staff spoke to a local private landlord and he agreed to accept Sarah as a tenant in a three-bed house so that she could regain custody of her children. Project workers at Re-Unite were able to reassure the landlord that they would be supporting Sarah closely to ensure she had the money to stagger payments for a bond on the property.
Re-Unite then supported Sarah through a parenting assessment by social services and she regained custody of her children.
It was not all plain sailing at the start; the youngest child – who by now was almost four years old – found it particularly difficult to re-establish close bonds. However, with the support of Re-Unite, Sarah managed to secure places for both children in local schools and kept herself healthy and busy.
Eventually Sarah was accepted onto a University course and she can now see a bright future for her family. She is convinced that without her children around her, she would have lacked the confidence and commitment needed to turn her life around and she could have ended up back in the drug community.