When Shauna left prison she knew she would have to shed friends and stay motivated.
After being sentenced to five years in prison at the age of 19, life beyond prison become hard to visualise. I am now 22 and have been out of prison for 6 months; I am currently serving the rest of my sentence on probation where I have to report every two months.
When I came out I decided that talking to the same people as before was not going to help me achieve my goals. Losing touch with some of my peers was not an easy thing to do, but I had to stay strong and knew that it was for the best.
On my journey since leaving prison I have experienced more than I ever thought possible. Trying to adjust back into society has given me the tools to direct my life back on the right path. The people that I have in my life at present have given me nothing but positivity and good encouragement. That encouragement along with my past life experience motivated me to get involved in youth work.
I started volunteering with an organisation involved in tackling gang culture in schools and colleges, which was a good opportunity for me to share my experiences with them. In particular I wanted to work with young girls getting involved in crimes and with gang culture.
While doing voluntary work I was still trying to find paid employment; I tried every recruitment process and failed. I started to lose hope of ever finding a job and got tired of asking – but I was hungry for my independence. Eventually I got a much-needed break and was offered a position as
a coffee vendor.
The coffee vendor job opened a door with a light shining through it. That light was User Voice. After I spoke to a few people about what, and more importantly who, the charity represented, I was left thinking life couldn’t get any better and that this was the route I needed to take. After a number of meetings and checks I was offered the position of Trainee Youth Engagement Officer. I’m shadowing at the moment and learning a lot. At this point in my life working with the youth team has given me the lift that I really needed to pursue a career I’m passionate about.
Article taken from Issue 19.