Malisa’s story

Malisa* was first referred to Alana House in 2019 for support with moving out of approved premises after leaving prison. She was convicted of serious sexual offences and served 60 months. Following her release in November 2018, she was on license until May 2021 and remains on the Sex Offenders Register (SOR) for life.

Later in 2019, Malisa’s probation officer re-referred her to Alana House’s Enrich programme. Malisa was in the process of being made redundant and was also pregnant with her fifth child. Social services had begun an initial child protection conference with pre proceedings for a public law order to run parallel to the child protection plan for the baby. Malisa’s probation officer identified that she needed support due to her difficulties surrounding her children and family, employment support, and her offending history and the impact on her attitudes and beliefs surrounding this.

Malisa recognised that she needed help. She was struggling to manage her emotions about her four children and the prospect of having another child, and was aware that her new baby could be removed due to her past offences and the conditions of the SOR.

At Alana House, Malisa’s support worker identified several key objectives and outlined how these would be met:

  • Ensure Malisa had a fair redundancy process and felt informed and able to engage in the process fairly, which would be achieved by supporting her as she liaised with her employer
  • Work with social services and those handling the child protection plan to make sure Malisa could engage and her voice could be heard
  • Support Malisa with complying with her probation requirements
  • Identify appropriate groups and drop-in sessions for Malisa to help develop her confidence, self-esteem, attitudes and behaviours
  • Use weekly one-to-one sessions to enable Malisa to reflect on her progress, process her feelings and agree on future actions.

Since support started, Malisa feels she has grown in confidence and is better able to share her feelings. She feels able to ask for help now, and can communicate more clearly because she has been given the skills to identify her needs and deal with them in an appropriate manner.

She has also been attending some Alana House groups. Before the coronavirus pandemic, she attended the Alana House community café and took part in baking classes, which made her feel more confident socialising with other women. She also attended Alana House’s Power to Change course about building healthy relationships. She joined the first session of the new ImproVoice group, where participants learn to explore and improve their emotions and attitudes through performing arts, and will continue with the group when it is safe to meet in person again.

Malisa said that she was especially grateful for the virtual support Alana House provided during lockdown. She found the pandemic challenging because she had to balance attending face-to-face sessions with being pregnant which put her at a higher risk if she caught Covid-19.

She reflected that the best thing about attending Alana House is  that she is listened to, and feels she can rely on them. She says she would definitely recommend Alana House to other women who need support, because “they can help you when you feel you are in a difficult position.”

* Name changed for confidentiality