Yvonne Williams – Blue Sky Inside’s Community Worker
Back in 2007 Yvonne applied to our merger partner RAPt’s apprenticeship scheme. She was successful and throughout the six months she was trained in facilitating group work and coping with difficult situations amongst many other things. On graduating the scheme she became a Drug and Alcohol Worker. Just two years later she was promoted to Senior Drug and Alcohol Worker when she was tasked with managing a team of four. Yvonne and her team worked in HMP Downview supporting the prisoners engaging on a RAPt treatment programme.
At the end of 2014 Yvonne saw the advert for the Blue Sky Inside position on RAPt’s intranet and the role interested her immediately. She didn’t know that some of the team at RAPt had already planned to recommend her for the position. She was clearly highly suitable for the role and Yvonne has now been Blue Sky Inside’s Community Worker since March 2015. Before joining us she had previously been promoted again to manage RAPt’s Changes programme in Tower Hamlets and there was scope for this position to be part-time so Yvonne spends the remaining two days of the week working for Blue Sky Inside.
As Blue Sky Inside’s Community Worker Yvonne visits the women in our ‘Stitch in Time’ textiles workshop in HMP Bronzefield prior to their release. She uses the time she has to get to know the women individually, find out about their needs and aspirations and build a strong rapport. When a lady is released Yvonne either meets her at the prison gate or organises a meeting with her one or two days later depending on their needs and what they request.
Once in the community Yvonne has regular contact with the women and supports them with everything from finding employment to independent living and managing finances. For example, Emma* was released recently and expressed an interest in setting up her own textiles business from home. Yvonne helped her with some research and found some free conferences targeting small business in the textiles industry. Yvonne encouraged Emma to make some enquiries and sat with her whilst she was on the phone. Emma got a space in one of the conferences and coupled with her matched grant from Blue Sky Inside to purchase two sewing machines she is well on her to starting her own enterprise from home.
“I love having this opportunity to empower these ladies from the Stitch workshop to have a better life on release from prison. I want to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel”
– Yvonne, pictured above in May 2015
*not her real name