Suze was arrested for drink driving and thinks probation has helped her address problems which were becoming tough for her to deal with.
She had recently moved back to the Wirral after an absence of several decades to look after her mum who had suffered a heart attack. Suze, a chef, had finished a hard shift and had rowed with her ex-partner before drinking and then making a bad decision.
Suze was sentenced to 150 hours Community Payback and 15 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days, supervised by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company. She has completed the hours working at the Tomorrow Women’s Wirral (TWW) project, a female only centre where people can address their issues to help them lead a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Suze, who had never previously been in trouble with the law, began her sentence in April.
She said: “I take full responsibility for what I did, and I know it was wrong, but running up to my offence it had been a tumultuous year and in hindsight I can see I was struggling to cope.
“In less than 12 months I’d split up with my partner, my mum was taken seriously ill and my best friend died. Because of my mum’s health, I returned to the Wirral and was struggling to readjust.
“I was working in Trafford and went for a few drinks after work before making some bad decisions.”
Suze bought some soft drinks from a shop before getting into her car to drive a short distance into a side street where she intended to sleep.
She said: “The shopkeeper saw me head back towards my car and called the police. I was woken by flashing blue lights.
“Going through the courts was horrendous. I was certain I was going to jail.”
Suze’s unpaid work order is supervised by Nicky Boughey, who works for TWW but whose role is funded by M CRC.
Suze said: “I was anxious about what probation would be like and didn’t know what to expect. But it’s been brilliant for me.
“The women I’ve met at TWW have been fantastic. It’s been an eye-opener. I’ve learned so much and being with them has helped me realise that many of us have problems and can support each other through tough times.
“Nikki is absolutely fantastic. I was feeling so low when I started my Community Payback. She has helped me restore my confidence and I feel so much better about myself. Now I actually look forward to coming here, that’s how much I’ve enjoyed it.
“It is a punishment. I have to give up my free time. But here I am treated as a person and the other women on probation – who are from all walks of life – have made me realise I’m not alone.”
Suze, who worked in Spain at some of the country’s top football clubs for many years prior to relocating to Brighton, moved back to the Wirral last November.
She said: “There’s a drinking culture associated with being a chef. I’d not thought about it until coming to TWW, but I’ve re-evaluated that because of what I’ve learnt from my time here. I’m drinking less and want a period where I’m teetotal.”
Nikki runs Community Payback groups at TWW four days a week. Women complete a whole range of tasks, from maintaining TWW’s award-winning gardens through to painting and decorating the centre and helping run a second-hand clothes store.
TWW, based in Beckwith St East, Birkenhead, runs a wide range of initiatives aimed at supporting women. These include probation supervision and courses, cooking, craft classes and activities.
Nikki said: “I want to ensure all our service users feel relaxed enough to tell me about their problems. I take people as I find them. They know I will treat them as I want to be treated, which is with fairly and with respect.
“Suze was quiet when I first met her and clearly had a lot of things to deal with. I have been delighted to watch her confidence grow. She has led such an interesting life and has helped support other attendees – which we love to see.”
Suze added: “I want to keep in touch with TWW after I finish my order because I feel I’ve gotten so much out of attending, and I would be delighted to help teach people some cooking skills.”