There are 1.1 billion girls in the world forming a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Today (Tuesday11 October) is the UN’s International Day of the Girl. For many girls around the globe their lives will follow the same course as their mothers, but many mothers want better for their daughters. This is particularly true of mothers in prison, separated from their daughters.
There are around 4,000 women in prison in the UK. Prospects works with women in custody to help them gain skills and prepare for life after release. Here some of the women Prospects has worked with in HMP Drake Hall and HMP Eastwood send their daughters letters to mark International Day of the Girl. The letters share the mothers’ ambitions for their daughters to take a different path.
I am writing you this letter to explain how I am feeling. As you are aware I’ve been in prison since 1 February 2016.
The first month I never thought I would get this far, all I did was cry.
I couldn’t sleep, eat or function properly. All my thoughts were about you, how much I missed seeing your beautiful face, hearing your voice and me popping in to see you for a cuppa and a chat. Listening to you grumbling about the children, my grandchildren, and your partner. Me doing the same to you.
How I miss those days. I need you to know just how much I miss and love you. All those times I found it so difficult to wrap my arms around you when you were upset or, just to tell you that I loved you so, so much. I’m so proud of you and all that you have achieved. One thing prison has taught me is it’s easy to do these things I once found so difficult.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here for me, for all the visits, money sent in, photos and lots more. I hope by you reading this you can see how difficult it has been for me being away from you.
Please don’t make any of the mistakes that I made and led me coming in here. It’s something I wouldn’t wish for you to go through or for you to put your children through.
If you can just listen to mother dearest this once, without raising your eyebrows or tutting at me, I would be a very happy mummy.
I love you more than words can ever say and I hope we can still have the wonderful relationship we had before all this happened.
I am truly sorry for putting you through this and letting you down. That’s what I feel like I have done, a mother is someone you are supposed to look up to, not feel disappointed in.
I love you like jelly tots. Miss you to the moon and back.
Mother Dearest xx
To my lovely daughter
As you are well aware, I have recently spent 11 months in prison. For me, the hardest part by far was being away from you. For this very reason, I would implore you to never end up in my position. Being away from your loved ones is the worst punishment and I never want you to go through the same.
Obviously if I had my time over again I would never commit any sort of crime. It is pointless, you get found out and quite rightly have to be punished, which leads to a custodial sentence of some sort.
Please, if you ever find yourself in some sort of trouble, seek help and advice firstly, whether this be professional help, or from friends and family. Do not bottle things up and keep things to yourself. A problem shared is a problem halved.
I really do believe that I was struggling, my mother was dying and I was too proud to ask for help. If I had asked or sought professional help, I know that I wouldn’t have ended up in prison. At the end of the day, your family will always be there for you, that is for sure and something you need to hold on to.
Whatever choices you make in life are not always correct – life is a learning curve. But please, know this my love, crime doesn’t pay, it really doesn’t! It just makes you feel sad, lonely and above all, an idiot. If only I had asked for help, I wouldn’t have ended up in this position.
Please, please, please I am pleading with you, don’t make my mistake.
I will ALWAYS be here for you, no matter what happens – that is priceless. The love of a parent is undeniable – it never wains or fades which is why prison is so very hard. You can’t see your children every day and miss them so very much.
I will support your choices too, but you need to be focused and steer away from a life of crime – get an education, see the world, just live your life my love.
I will love you forever.
To My Girls
The path went wrong when I started taking drugs. I was mixing with people I thought were my mates, smoking drugs, robbing and shoplifting any shop I could for money to pay for drugs and more drugs. I couldn’t stop.
I lost my good friends, especially family, and at the end of the day, they’re the ones, I needed around me.
Now here I am sitting inside prison.
So to you I say, the law you should abide, don’t end up like me, feeling like you’re all alone, with no one to talk to, and no one to phone. So to you I say, you are gorgeous girls. Don’t end up like me.
You’re worth diamonds and pearls
To my daughter
I started drinking when I was 15, I’m now 27 and in jail because drink got me in the end, I’ve lost my children over my mental health, I’ve only got one kidney because of my health as a child and through drinking.
So please think about what can happen if you are heading down the wrong road, think twice about it. Please take care of your body, you only live once. Drink will lead you to end up behind bars, because it leads you to cause crimes.
Do I wish I could change myself? Yes. But I can only hope in the future I will be happy and drink-free.
These letters were written by women serving sentences supported by Prospects, the education, employment and training company. Prospects works in more than 40 prisons delivering careers education, advice, information and guidance. Prospects also runs the education provision at Feltham Young Offenders Institution.
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Notes to Editor
The Prospects Group provides tailored education, employment, training and care products and services for people at all stages of life. Each year Prospects inspires more than 500,000 people to develop their potential and transform their lives. More than 1,400 professional and skilled colleagues provide practical support to the local communities they are based in across the UK and internationally. Prospects is one of the largest employee owned companies in the UK. It is also a Leader in Diversity and ranked in the top 100 index by the National Centre for Diversity.
Alona de Havilland
07790 803882 or 01823 362804
Senior Communications Manager
020 8315 1023 or 07901 922211