Campaign, Case study | 12 October 2020

Gemanita's Story

I’m the only woman at my new job. At first I was nervous, but all the guys have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. It makes such a difference! I got my first set of wages last week. It was mad! I spent so much time on Universal Credit that I learned to live on a low amount of money. Now I have more money than I’ve had for ages.

My criminality started when I was young. I ended up in care at twelve years old and wasn’t being supervised. I ended up stealing and all sorts.

Almost thirty years ago, my children’s father and his mother were murdered in their home. At the time I told myself that it didn’t affect me that much, but now I know that it did because I ended up using. Hard drugs were the in thing at the time. I picked it up and everything changed.

I used drugs for twenty years. I went to rehab three times, but it only stuck the last time. The difference was that this time I wanted it more, and I knew what I had to lose. People say you have to hit rock bottom before you can get back up. Well, I found out that my mum was dying, and my son was sent to prison while his girlfriend was pregnant. I knew it was time for me to make a change.

I really engaged with the rehab this time. I asked questions when I didn’t understand, I started to think differently, and I got to know myself more than I ever had – how to recognise my triggers and urges, and not to turn away from my feelings like I had in the past. I’ve been clean three years now, and I feel so different. In the end I spent a lot of time with my mum before she died.

My daughter was a big influence in my recovery. She gave me a place to stay, and always tells me how proud she is of me. I also had an employment support worker who referred me to Working Chance. I had no idea how big an influence they were going to be in my life.

I was pursuing a few different job options when coronavirus hit, and everything went quiet. Then Working Chance put me forward for a role in a recycling plant. I didn’t know anything about recycling, but it turns out that it’s really interesting. I had an amazing interview and they offered me a job, a permanent position!

Everything that’s happened since I’ve come out of rehab has been so good. Everything has fallen into place. My advice for other women in my position would be: don’t give up your dreams. You can change your life. I’m living proof.