Footprints Dorset Women's Mentoring:

J's Story

“J” is a 38-year-old woman who has been known to Footprints for some years. She has been a resident in the Bournemouth/Poole area since 2015 but had never held a tenancy or had a secure address. She grew up in care in London and became addicted to heroin in her teens. She has two sons, both of whom were removed at birth and adopted.

J engaged with a Footprints worker in 2016 during a stay in supported bail accommodation. We helped her register with a local GP and sign up for benefits. J has never had any formal employment and for the past decade has supported herself and her heroin addiction by sex working. Unfortunately, she returned to this line of work in 2017 and she was returned to prison.

She contacted us again in 2018 when living as a squatter. She said she felt unsafe and asked for our help. She also thought she might be pregnant.

“I first started with Footprints couple of years ago and I've been on a rollercoaster of a ride in that time. I struggle massively with trusting professionals and getting work done but you are the only ones I've ever let in and trusted."

We put her in touch with a substance misuse agency, registered her with a GP, with housing and with child services. In addition, we accompanied her to appointments.

We set her up an email address and signed her up for universal credit. We liaised with the Bournemouth working women’s project, who offered support to J in the evenings.

J attended weekly meetings with her mentor who listened to her and encourage her, giving her the space to discuss her situation and make informed decisions.

Unfortunately, J missed collecting her script twice and the prescription was stopped. By the time she came into labour, she had returned to sex working and using street heroin.

A difficult labour meant that J was confined to hospital for two weeks. During this time, we secured accommodation in a female only supported housing unit and finally sorted out her benefits.

With secure accommodation, support and benefits in place J has not returned to sex-working, has kept off heroin and is caring for her daughter.

J is now in a very different place and told us:

"You didn't give up on me when the rest of the world had. I will always be grateful for that. Slowly put my life together again with your help”