Anne’s story

Turning Point Scotland 218 service is well known as offering support to women in the justice system. However Turning Point Scotland Turnaround community programme is available for both women and men. The service operates across 10 local authorities from Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire down to Dumfries & Galloway.

This week’s blog is a power testimony about some of the underlying trauma and loss that can lie behind alcohol and offending.

Anne experienced a traumatic loss in 2003. Her 16 year old son was murdered in a violent machete attack, which was believed to be a case of mistaken identity. Anne subsequently battled depression and started to drink alcohol excessively in order to cope with the trauma. At around the same time, she entered the criminal justice system for the first time.

Anne was referred to Turning Point Scotland Turnaround by her Criminal Justice Social Worker after receiving a Community Payback Order with a 2 year Supervision requirement. She had been charged with Police Assault and Threatening and Abusive Behaviour. She had no previous offences and her behaviour seemed to be directly linked to misuse of alcohol.

Over the next 6 months Anne attended her weekly appointments with Turnaround. She began working on an agreed care plan to support her through her CPO and to address the underlying issues that led to her offending behaviour.

Anne was referred to the addiction team as well as being given information on Narcotics Anonymous. She made the decision to remain abstinent from alcohol following the most recent offence and worked hard to maintain this. She consistently engaged with 1-2-1 support from her Social Worker, Addictions Worker and Turnaround Worker every week and worked through the relevant sessions within the ECHO programme. These included:

  • Triggers – exploring personal triggers of her alcohol use and how she could develop strategies to cope with them;
  • Dealing with Emotions – exploring different kinds of feelings and emotions that can be difficult to manage including taking responsibility for her offence and victim empathy;
  • Alcohol Awareness – to understand alcohol and its effects, to explore what effects alcohol has on the body and on behaviour and;
  • Relapse Prevention – which discussed how to prevent relapse, developed refusal skills and confidence to say No to alcohol, supported her to make a relapse prevention plan.

In addition to this, Anne agreed to be referred on to another more suitable professional to deal with her trauma and loss as she had not had the opportunity previously to access this kind of support.  Anne was supported through the breakdown of her marriage and two changes in tenancy during this time with both practical and emotional support from Turnaround.

Turnaround was invited to Anne’s Criminal Justice Social Worker  review a year into her CPO and the decision was made to apply to court for an early discharge – this was in light of Anne’s motivation, progress and achievements while on her order.  She had maintained her abstinence and not reoffended. Turnaround staff accompanied Anne to court in August and the Sheriff agreed with the CJSW recommendation for an early discharge.

The Sheriff took the opportunity to praise Anne for her hard work and determination. Anne stated that the support she received had contributed to her remaining abstinent from alcohol, not reoffending and experiencing an improvement in her overall wellbeing.