Case Study

Getting that girl back: the power of peer mentoring

29 Feb 2024
Linzi had the picture perfect life. In a long-term relationship with her childhood sweetheart, she had two daughters, and a responsible job at the council. Yet behind the scenes, things were far from perfect and as her ‘toxic’ relationship took its toll, she turned to alcohol for support.

Living as a functioning alcoholic, she drank at weekends – all weekend, every weekend – and worked during the week. Even when family members suggested rehab, Linzi wouldn’t acknowledge the problem. Then she woke up in a police cell.

Narrowly avoiding a lengthy prison sentence for GBH with intent, her life unravelled further. A lacklustre spell in rehab and the breakdown of her relationship left her desperate to block out her feelings.

“I lost my job, I lost my children, I lost all my friends, I lost my dignity, I lost my self-respect, and I just didn’t care… The only thing I cared about was drinking and it was a very dark, isolated place,” says Linzi.

“I was getting arrested a lot, drunk and disorderly. One night as I was getting arrested, I lashed out at four police officers and that was my second offence… As soon as I got out from the cell I went back to the shop, blocking out, again with whisky.”

In early 2021, Linzi finally found the strength to fight back. This time focussing 100% on her recovery and determined to get her children back, she successfully completed her suspended sentence and trusted fully in her probation officer. It became a relationship that helped change her life when the Ingeus peer mentor academy was suggested to her.

The Ingeus peer mentor academy supports people on probation to constructively volunteer. Part of Ingeus’s Commissioned Rehabilitative Services activities in the Noth East, many qualified peer mentors progress into paid employment in the criminal justice sector – often with Ingeus. As peer mentors, they share their experiences and stories of recovery. In return, they discover a sense of purpose and deliver hope to others who have followed the wrong path in life.

“Someone with lived experience can give hope when people feel hopeless,” continues Linzi. “I was once in that place where you feel like you’ve got no one, no one you can trust, no one who understands what you’re going through.”

Linzi says she feels privileged to be an Ingeus peer mentor; one of the first women in the Gateshead/Durham area to take part in the academy.

“The course helped bring out all the qualities that I’d lost in addiction, in bad behaviours – I’ve got that girl back.

“That criminal conviction, that addiction, doesn’t define who you are as a person and I want to use my lived experience to help people relate to that and give them hope that they can turn their lives around.”

Watch Linzi's story:

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