Our stories The path to independence P had been sentenced to 8 years in prison. On release, he was experiencing depression and struggling to adjust to life in the community. P had also lost contact with his children, which was a significant factor in worsening his mental health. Whilst at ARKRS, P was supported to acquire several personal fitness qualifications and began to work as a self-employed personal fitness instructor. ARKRS’s Resettlement Officers also helped P to reconnect with his children and this helped to improve his mental wellbeing. However, P began to become dependent on the support he had whilst living within supported accommodation. Resettlement Officers worked with P to help him become more independent, improve his self-confidence and to move into private rented property. "I now live in my own accommodation, works as a self-employed personal trainer and my depression has significantly improved." Breaking unhealthy cycles Before arriving at ARKRS, F had committed a number of offences over 26-year period that included convictions for theft, criminal damage and threatening behaviour. Many of these offences had happened when F was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which caused him to become aggressive and abusive. Whilst in prison, F had begun to self-harm after growing increasingly frustrated and distressed with problems accessing the rehabilitation and addiction support programmes. When it came to his release, his needs and goals for the future ranged from developing positive relationships and finding help with drug and alcohol misuse, to seeking education, training and employment. F was accepted by ARKRS for supported accommodation, where he was assigned a Resettlement Worker who helped to set up appointments with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, as well as helping with basic day-to-day struggles that were making his transition back into the community difficult. F also received non-judgemental support when he relapsed, and with the help of ARKRS was able to return to his abstinence strategy. Through one-to-one key working sessions, F was able to explore things in his life such as poverty, unemployment and homelessness that may have contributed to his inability to cope in the past. Over the course of his time with ARKRS, F says that he has developed greater insight into his behaviour and is now setting his sights on finding employment. His next objective is doing some voluntary work and he has expressed interest in working in a support kitchen. “I would give Ark Resettlement Services 10 out of 10. If it wasn’t for Ark I wouldn’t be where I am.” Finding stability At a young age, R had been taken away from his parents and put up for adoption, as they were unable to look after him due to drug and alcohol use. R was removed from school aged 14 and never returned to education. As a teenager, R’s biological mother got back in contact with him, which triggered a serious mental health crisis for R. He began to self-medicate on alcohol, crack cocaine and heroin. R’s adoptive parents then asked him to leave the family home resulting in R being made homeless at 17. Whilst homeless, R resorted to sex work to gain money to support his drug usage. Dysfunctional relationships with older men only worsened his mental health at a time when he was extremely vulnerable. R had been into prison 14 times, had difficulty coping and had become suicidal. Given R’s history, Ark dispensed with the usual criteria requirements so that R could be accepted into the service and be provided with accommodation and stability. Ark staff co-produced a support plan with R that enabled him to feel supported to visualise a future for himself.