"Yes, I want a career for me so I can feel like I’ve achieved something and I’m winning, but I’m gonna win even more if I can help my son. That’s the goal for me as a mother, I don’t want him to struggle as much as I have. If I can make life easier for him, I will."
Every day we work with determined, resilient women who want to create better futures for themselves and their families. Finding a job doesn’t just change the lives of the women we work with, it changes the lives of their children too. It’s not always easy. Finding a job that fits around school, childcare, or other commitments can be tough, but it is possible.
The impact on mums caught in the criminal justice system can tear families apart; women sent to prisons far from home making visits infrequent or impossible; the effect on often already fragile mental health, and the hard struggle to rebuild following a conviction. Finding a job might not be top of the list of things to do for a mum with a conviction. But when women are ready, they come to us.
Selene*, a single mum of one, is just one of the mums who’s out there working to change things for herself and her family. She’s recently been on work experience and right now is looking forward to all of the opportunities that life has in store for her and her son.
She came to Working Chance after seeing the team at a job fair. Not working at the time, she knew her convictions could be a hindrance to finding work and she knew she wanted more from life, so she decided to give us a try. As a mother she wants to build a better future for herself and her family. We caught up with her just in time for Mother’s Day to hear why finding work is so important to her as a mum.
She says; “With boys what you’re always scared of is they’ll get into gangs. That’s my biggest fear, him going into gangs or something and losing him to the prison system, that’s what scares me the most.
If my son sees me working, I can inspire him, and he’ll see life in a different way. I want to support him in his dreams. I want to be able to help him build his own future.
"If my son sees me working, I can inspire him, and he’ll see life in a different way. I’m his role model, I want to show him the positive things in life. I want to support him in his dreams and give him opportunities to see more and learn more. I want to be able to help him build his own future.
"Me having a job and stability will create stability in his life. And once I can be more stable for him, knowing I’m working and pushing myself to support him, I can be happy around him. If I’m feeling my joy and fulfillment and he can see that, it will light him up too, and show him how he can go out into the world and find a career and be happy.
If I’m not showing him anything more, I could be destroying his dream, he might want to do more, but he can’t think beyond that if he hasn’t seen that from me.
"Working is so important, because if I’m not showing him anything more, I could be destroying his dream, he might want to do more, but he can’t think beyond that if he hasn’t seen that from me. If you don’t know anything more, so your children don’t know anything more, nobody is growing and nothing’s getting better. They say it starts at home so if he sees it here, well he’ll know he can go out in the world and do things too.
"I’d really love to have a job and be more sorted before he gets much older, so we can enjoy some time before he’s off doing things on his own with his friends. Once I’m working and we’re more sorted, we’ve got a plan down already. He loves trains. So, we’re going to do a train crawl, create a map and go to all the different stations and on the different trains. Just doing stuff like that with him is what’s really pushing me forward. I really want to be able to give him things like that."
*name has been changed