“I’ve been sitting in the dark, and in RESTORE a door opened and the light was able to reach me.”

Siobhan was serving a six year sentence at HMP Eastwood Park. After nine months on remand, she attended RESTORE in Eastwood Park and then volunteered to attend for a second time as peer support. She was invited to take part in training and become a speaker for the programme.

Here, Siobhan describes in her own words her experience of RESTORE:

“When I started this journey in January I was a very broken woman with some difficult decisions laying ahead of me and no idea how or when I was going to make them. I was faced with changes that were going to be painful, not only for me but for my then partner. I remember feeling at the beginning, I’m lost, I don’t know how to get there?

Through the process of doing the programme the first time I was struck by a feeling of solidarity. I was not alone and the women around me did not judge me for what I had been through. It enabled me to start writing poetry again. I had been unable to write for 10 years. A combination of this and speaking in the group, really helped me see things more clearly.

Somewhere during this process I found myself again. I found my strength. I was able to make small leaps forward.

I found anger which is an incredibly new emotion for me. I was supported through this so it did not become a destructive emotion. This support carried on through the second time I did the program.

As I’ve peeled away layers and worked my way through them I’ve uncovered things very deeply buried which are painful. Being supported through the pain I felt and also the guilt at the impact of my actions had on my family and friends has been amazing. There is really a lot to be said for the support that is generated from this program.

It has been life changing for me. I have the power to steer my life in a much more positive direction.

Becoming a speaker at the last program was amazing. I was a little apprehensive about how to put my story together in a suitable framework. How do I say what I need to say? How do I keep myself safe while I do that? What if I say too much? What if I don’t say enough? What if people judge me?

Sandra (lead facilitator of RESTORE) guided me through a process of mapping my story. We went through a few options on how to put my story together and key bits of information and phrases that would help me keep on track.

The support and guidance left me feeling much more confident and at ease with the next step. My story was well received and was handled with care by the women who heard it. Being able to inspire others and help them make these small shifts in themselves that help towards healing is a wonderful feeling. Knowing the impact and the connection I felt when I’ve heard someone’s life journey, I know how beneficial it can be.

As a result of RESTORE I feel my life is now moving forward in a very positive way. There are opportunities in front of me now that would not have been had I not been through this process. I find them Ruth and Sandra (facilitators) incredibly inspirational women. Being able to bounce ideas off them, being able to map a future where I can look after myself and others. Ideas I may not have considered that actually sit very well. Possibilities for my future that can help keep me balanced.

Being part of the RESTORE team has been an honour. I feel that my journey forward is solidifying.

I had a real moment of clarity about what RESTORE meant for me, so I wrote a poem called ‘The Gift’:

A Gift

That feeling of connection
the sense of care
that understanding that comes
from those who’ve been there

Words can’t always express
those feelings inside
but a lot can be said
by a look in those eyes

A gesture, a movement
can be all that’s needed
the expression of soul
comprehension seeded

It’s a massive gift
to not feel alone
one that I’ll treasure
and allow to grow

cultivate and nurture
this care we all crave
I’ll take it and share it
it’s a strong path to pave.

Get in touch

If you would like to learn and discover more about RESTORE, enquire how RESTORE can work in partnership with yourselves or begin a strategic process of planning to deliver RESTORE within your settings, please do get in touch via our RESTORE Programme Manager sandra@theforgivenessproject.com.