MY NAME IS SAM….Sam overcame her start in life

Meet Sam…

Sam is an inspirational woman and Women UK honour her. Sam overcame her start in life. By overcoming a really hard childhood and abuse, she is building her life back together.

Sam started offending as a child. Her mother had drug and alcohol problems and was a victim of domestic abuse which Sam witnessed. Sam spent much of her childhood in local authority care. She has a history of drug use, alcohol addiction and mental health problems. As a child living in care, she started getting involved in fights and petty offending.
‘I didn’t feel wanted and looked after as a child…Over the years I’ve had so many different social workers and so many different homes and foster carers…They used to stick me in secure units all the time, so from 14 I was basically in jail… It’s like instead of helping this girl out, it’s like, ‘Where can we put her so she’s out of our way for a bit, keep her out of our hair for a bit?’ Sam overcame her start in life.

Sam became pregnant at 17. Her son is now six years old. Her mother looks after her son  under a special guardianship order.

Sam has regular contact with him and they have a close relationship. Although she is grateful to her mother but also resents the fact that she was not supported to care for her son herself. Together with this, she feels that she was stigmatised for her mental health needs. Sam believes that if she had received the right support, she could have been more involved with her son’s care. Sam overcame her start in life

Every time mental health is mentioned, Sam feels it’s bad news, because people are not trained enough to look at the whole picture. Sam says…

‘ if her son is not with her, this is better because she can’t be around children if she has bipolar and violent outbursts and all this sort of stuff,’ not, ‘Right, maybe she needs anger management, maybe she needs a referral to a mental health place and do all this stuff and start bringing her and her son together.’

Unfortunately Sam stayed in abusive relationships for many years. This contributed to her re-offending and drug use. Her mental health issues continued but Sam overcame her start in life.

‘I’ve just literally followed in my Mum’s footsteps, going from abusive relationship to abusive relationship. I took as many drugs as I could and was constantly getting arrested for fighting. I was in and out of mental health hospitals against my will with being sectioned and stuff like that’

Sam has many regrets including the trauma her son would have experienced when witnessing her being arrested, and feels that the police did not make any effort to protect him. Sam overcame her start in life.

For more information on living with mental health, read more here

‘They don’t care…it’s your fault for what you’re doing…you’re pinning me to the ground in front of my screaming child rather than letting me … calm him down…’

‘And if they’re searching the house, they’ll break up the stuff in his bedroom, they don’t care that he’s there screaming or whatever. Previously when I was a child they didn’t are if I was screaming… ‘

For about 15 years, Sam did not feel she had a positive experience in court and feels her son’s interests were not taken into account:

‘It’s your fault, you’ve done this to your kid,’ rather than, ‘Hold up, why is this girl acting out the way she is? What’s behind all of this? Let’s see if we can work towards getting this better for her and bring her and her son…’ None of that is looked at.

However about four years ago, Sam received a community order which led her to the Advance Minerva service.

‘ my solicitor told me the judge had got my pre-sentence report and had actually taken a lot of it into consideration… I was really grateful for that time because then it led me here.’

Sam has not offended since then and is working as a peer mentor. She attributes her success to the support she has received from the Advance Minerva service, as well as the judge’s decision.

‘My keyworker at Advance was so amazing and so helpful, like it’s the first time that I’ve got to where I’ve got to today and I do believe it’s got a lot to do with Minerva and Advance. And the judge giving me a bit of a break.’

We are a women-only organisation, providing emotional and practical support to women in London. All our services are free and confidential.
A large part of our work is crisis intervention – for women who require urgent help and face imminent danger. To find out more or contact Advance, please click here

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