From the day I received my custodial sentence, I was determined to turn my life around and make sure that I never went back to prison. I kept my head down all the time I was inside and upon release I’d already lined up a job volunteering for a charity who worked with ex-offenders.
I knew the hardest thing for me was going to be rebuilding a relationship with my family. I’d really let them down and I’d been devastated to see my mum and dad so distraught when I told them that I was likely to be going to prison. Communication between us had been very sporadic all the time I was inside.
My brother had been a fantastic support to me both during my trial and whilst I was incarcerated and I was so pleased when he told me that he’d got engaged and would be getting married – at last, something to look forward to. But then came the sting in the tale – they were getting married abroad. I was pretty sure that as I was still on licence, I wouldn’t be able to go.
From the time I left prison, I’d had a pretty good relationship with my probation officer so I thought I’d run the idea of travelling overseas for a couple of weeks past her. I was quite shocked when she categorically said ‘No’. No discussion, no thinking about it, just ‘No’. She told me that it was a standard condition on any licence to:
Not travel outside the UK unless otherwise directed by your supervising officer (permission for which will be given in exceptional circumstances only)
As far as she was concerned, this wasn’t an exceptional circumstance!
I left the probation office in tears. I wasn’t totally surprised but I did think that my probation officer would at least consider the pro’s and con’s of the trip. I’d really wanted to be with my brother on his big day and had thought it would be a good opportunity to start to build bridges with my mum and dad and other members of my family. My probation officer had just taken this all away from me.
My brother was stunned when I told him the bad news but after a cup of tea and some clear thinking he said:
Come on Mee this can’t be right. Let’s find out what options are open to us.
We did loads of research that night and over the next couple of days had conversations with lots of different organisations. In the end we decided that I had nothing to lose by appealing my probation officers decision.
I wrote a really detailed letter to the head or the probation office and a couple of weeks later I received a response stating that my application to travel had been approved.
My brothers wedding was fantastic. We were away for about 10 days in all which gave me plenty of time to spend with my mum and dad, away from the stress and pressure of everyday life and really did give me the opportunity to start re-building our relationship.
By Mia (name changed to protect identity)