Joining hands for the Grenfell Tower Fire

Hey Lovelies,

Hope your well.

In the last week, I am sure all of you have heard and seen so much about the Grenfell Tower fire and the thousands of people that came together to help each other at a time of crisis. This blog isn’t to sing my praises or talk more about the fire and what happened but just to say thank you to a few people and my experience those 2 days.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning on the 14th of June, I looked at my phone and saw a notification from BBC news. It briefly read, that there was a fire in West London and that it was very serious and when I opened the notification, I realised how serious the fire actually was. I’ll be honest, when I normally read something like this in the news, I read it and then feel sorry about the situation and then carry on with my day, thinking what can I do? Nothing! But this news, for some reason, did pierce me and felt like something sharp cutting through me. I felt uneasy and upset.
In 2011, whilst my mum and my sister were in Germany visiting family and it was just me and my dad here, there was a fire in our house. Luckily, we were both not home but it happened around midnight and I came home to find the top half of my house on fire. If I was minutes late, I think I would have come back to nothing. As I was pulling up to my house, I realised that the house was on fire and I could see orange and red flames glaring through mine and my sisters bedroom. I stopped the car and ran towards the house, probably not a wise idea when I think about it now but I panicked and did not know what to do. In panic, I dialed 999 and the fire brigade were able to get to me in just under two minutes as there is a fire station a minute away from my house. The two minutes that I spent waiting for them felt like 200 years because there in front of me, I could see my family home falling apart. It was only when they arrived and one of fire fighters asked me, if there is anyone inside the house, I realised that I have not told my dad yet. I called him, stuttering and not knowing what to say. I mean, how do you tell someone their house is burning down. I don’t remember the exact conversation but I told him there has been an accident in the house, I am safe and the fire brigade are here and that he should come home. And so he did. I think in that time, all we could both think about was thank God neither of us were inside, and by God’s grace we were both out that night and not home when it happened, because it was midnight and we both could have been inside asleep. The fire brigade were doing their job and a part of me was feeling very anxious to find out how the fire had started, as I had fully convinced myself that I had left the hair straighteners on. After hours of standing outside and waiting for someone to tell us something, one of the fire fighters informed me and my dad that the fire had started in my parents bedroom, and that it was from a light in one of the  wardrobes. There was a short in the wiring and this lead to the lights turning on automatically and starting a fire. After that night was over, everything else seemed to be moving in slow motion. Me and my dad moved into our aunts house for a few nights, my mum and sister came back to no house, all our belongings had been destroyed, and the next 10 months we spent living in a hotel, thanks  to our aunt who dealt with the insurance company and literally took charge and helped us so much for which I am eternally grateful for and for everything she has done for me and my family during that time. At the end of 2011 our house was refurbished and we were able to move back in.

I know that the fire in my house is not even minutely close to the Grenfell Tower fire. None of us lost our lives thankfully but when I read the news, I did relate to it, as I can understand what someone may have been feeling and it made me remember the fire in my house. I wanted to help but just didn’t know how. A few hours later, I came across a post on instagram, asking people for emergency donations. They were requesting for food, drinks, clothes and anything that would be beneficial. After seeing the post, I thought the least I could is drop some stuff off in the evening to one of the drop off points listed. I then rang my friend and was telling him about the fire and mentioned that I was going to go and drop the donations off in the evening. It was after that phone call, that a small donation turned into a bigger donation and by the end of the evening, we had hundreds of donations from all over London. My friend called his friends and within a few hours of the morning, we had 3 drop off points across London. One in Mitcham, South London, one in Finchley, North London, and the last one in Oxted, I don’t even know where that is, and by the end of the night, my sister managed to arrange another drop off point in Harrow at Elmfield Church.

It was just gone 7 pm, and people were calling and dropping off things at various drop off points. We did not expect such a big turn out in so little time and people were responding so well and being very generous and helpful. We even had people calling us to let us know they had spare rooms in their homes and that if we knew any victims then we could inform them of these places. Together me, my sister, my friend, his friends, my sisters friends were all helping to get these donations moved as quickly and as efficiently as possible and we did. Me and my friend drove to Oxted to collect the donations and when we arrived there, the shop was half filled with donations and in the end we had to drop everything off using two vans to a community centre that was taking the donations. Meanwhile my sister and her friends dropped off the donations that they had received to a local community centre too that was collecting  these donations.  By midnight we managed to drop off everything we had and there was still more waiting to be collected from our North and South London drop off points.  But as a team we were happy with what we had accomplished so far. The following day, the remaining items were dropped off from Mitcham and Finchley and all brought down to Elmfield Church in Harrow. Even after giving majority of the donations we had the night before, people were still being generous and dropping of more things. The church room was packed with things, such as food, drinks, bags and bags of clothing, baby food, nappies, prams and cots, the list can go on. My mum, cousins and all our friends who came to help us on Thursday, were so overwhelmed by everything that was going on and together we managed to sort out all the donations so that they were all ready to be delivered to various places. We did hear that the donation centres were all so full and they were asking people to temporarily stop bringing donations but by this point we had collected so many things and wanted to make sure it was going somewhere useful. And I know when the fire in my house happened how I felt without my belongings and so I hope this helps someone else at least for the time being.

The 2 days that we spent doing all this and helping will never be forgotten. In light of all the bad that had happened, it was so refreshing to see people be there for each other in a time of need. It was beautiful to see all communities come together and help one another regardless of what race or religion they were from. I personally felt thankful for everyone’s contribution and help in those 2 days. Even after work, university, family commitments and everything else, people found time to come and do their part. No words and donations can bring back the lives that were lost in the fire but I hope it will at least help solve a tiny part of their problems by not having to think about food, or water for the time being. I want to say a big thank you to the following people who made those two days happen and without their help, there wouldn’t be so many donations.

So thank you Rani Restaurant in Finchley, Embon Cash and Carry in Mitcham, EM10 Express, in Oxted , Elmfield Church in North Harrow, Sainsbury’s, my sister, my mum, my dad, my cousins, my friend, his friends, and my sisters friends for putting in 100% and helping out at a time like this.  I learnt that alone I could have done little but TOGETHER  we did so much. There is no I in Team! And this team was definitely a dream Team. 

And finally a massive thank you to every single person that donated something and was also part of this journey. I know there were a million other donations given but I am proud of what we accomplished in those two days, and the little part we played in helping all these people. For me personally I have memories of those days that  will last me a life time. 

Please find more pictures below

Thank you

Hope you enjoyed the read xx

A day at work with…

Hi Guys,

I recently read an interview in a magazine, where they would talk to people working in different types of jobs and find out more about their day to day roles. Basically a one day diary from morning coffee to when the lights go out. I found this really interesting and wanted to adapt something similar in my blogs so that people reading my blogs, can get to know more about different people’s jobs and what their day looks like. I’m hoping to  add something like this in my blog every month, and to kick start it, I asked someone close to home to be my first volunteer. She is a family member and also someone very close to me, and also coz I know she wouldn’t let me down!

Jansika Gunabalasingam,  Founder of Amma and Me

Jansika Gunabalasingam, 28,  creator and designer of Amma and Me. Amma and Me is a clothing brand, that designs bespoke tailor made outfits for mummies and their little ones. She is based in the UK with her husband and son, Romeo. She has kindly let me into her life and tell me a little more about her business and how she got into all this.


So here goes…

My alarm goes off…

At 7.00 am, I get up and wake my son up for school. Get him bathed, changed and fed. It’s a bit of a battle in the morning but we eventually get there and usually leave the house by 8 am, if there’s is no other obstacles in the way, but this routine has been going on since he started school and it has been good.

I am responsible for…

All the designing and tailoring of each outfit for my clients. I ensure that they get what they have asked for and ensure that they are satisfied with the end product. I ensure that the suppliers where I am getting my material from are aware of my order at an early stage so that I can deliver each outfit on time and without an issue.

I got the job…

I did not apply for this job or go for an interview, I am passionate about designing and sarees and one day, I decided that this is what I wanted to do and just started. I love dressing up in our traditional outfits and thought why not make outfits for people so they can love wearing our outfits too.

My typical day…

At the moment my typical day is to go to my full time job as a receptionist and Book keeper at a Law Firm. I work there from 9.30 till 5.30pm and then go home to my family. I spend time with my son and husband for a while and once I have put my son to bed, I sit in front of the sewing machine and sew the night away.

My most memorable moment…

It was when I gave birth to my gorgeous little son, Romeo. I know that its not a work related answer, but that was my most memorable moment and to be honest it was a turning point in my life.

The worst part of my job…

When my sewing machine has brains of itself and crashes on me whilst I am in the middle of sewing. So annoying! Other than that, I don’t really think there has been a time when I have thought this is rubbish and I can’t do this anymore. I enjoy what I do and therefore it makes it fun and interesting.

The best part of my job…

Seeing my customers happy when they try their outfits on. I see a glow in their face and ‘that makes me happy. When I was little I always used to play dress ups and saree shop games with my sisters and cousins and now all these years later, I can proudly say I am doing what I love the most. Its a good feeling doing what you love and making other girls feel beautiful too in the process. Also the feeling off walking into a fabric store and choosing materials and playing around with colours gives me great satisfaction and I find it very therapeutic.

After work…

I wind down, I cook, clean, feed my husband and son and then at some point I have some me time. I love listening to music and watching movies and so I try and catch up on a movie or for those who know me, will say I put music on and dance away whilst doing my chores. When I am on my own, my inner Prabhu Deva steps out!


Definately my own Saree shop! All that practising of opening and closing sarees has given me enough confidence and experience of being able to run my own saree empire!


Thank you Jansi for being part of my adventure and letting me experiment this new venture with you. I hope you enjoyed this, as much as I enjoyed listening to your answers. I will leave ways to find you on social media below and best of luck with all your future business ideas!

And I hope you enjoyed the read everyone x


Mental Health in the Tamil Community

“I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore… If you’re broken, you do not have to stay broken. And if that’s anything whether you respect me or not, one thing you should know about is I care about people.”

-Selena Gomez

Image result for mental health

My week kick started with Mental Health training and that involved learning about the different types of mental health disorders and the symptoms we should look out for. As part of the training we also learnt about how we could help someone who is going through any type of Mental health issues and what they can do. Some people may have been diagnosed but there are a lot of people who aren’t diagnosed and this training was a way of ensuring that we are able to pick up on signs and what the triggers are. So while the topic is still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write a blog about Mental Health within our Tamil community. So I apologise is this is not fun and you were expecting something else.

In my opinion I think it is an issue, and there are a lot of people suffering from a type of mental health disorder, but the problem is our community and the word “Mental”. We overlook the problem and just brush it under the carpet. We think if we don’t talk about it, then maybe one day it will disappear. I think we should talk about it and look at finding options to help someone going though something difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Tamil people have mental health issues, I am saying “We ALSO have people suffering with Mental Health disorders”.

Our society stigmatises people with mental health issues, therefore it may be difficult for people to openly discuss it or get the help they require. Mental health can vary with different people and there is no age limit. This morning, I read that a Tamil girl had committed suicide due to depression and the article stated that the young girl did seek help by speaking to friends and staff in school but it was too late for anything to be done. It does make me sad to hear things like that, and I think we shouldn’t be ashamed to say we are going through something, because it’s not permanent. With the right help, you can get better.

There are different kinds of Mental health disorders and I learnt about a few different kinds but the ones that I would like to write about are, Depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. I have specifically chosen to talk about these types because I work with Tamil and non Tamil offenders who suffer from one or more of these conditions and maybe someone might relate to this or know someone who is going though something similar. I am not a medical expert, so this is just what I know and see at work. At the end of the blog, I will list organisations that specialise in theses fields and that can help professionally, so I am sorry for those medical experts reading this!

I currently work with a service user (offender) who suffers from Anxiety. We all get anxious sometimes. It may affect our sleep, appetite and concentration but usually eases when the cause of the anxiety has passed. This particular offender’s anxiety persisted and his feelings became overwhelming and significantly affected his ability to cope. Someone suffering from anxiety can also have mental health problems such as depression. In this particular case the signs/ symptoms for him were physical sensations including increased heart rate, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, tense muscles, headaches, nausea and the need to go toilet more often. He was also having thoughts about passing out or even worse dying. There would also be times where he would have the urge to escape a situation in order to relive his physical sensations and reduce distressing thoughts. There were even times when he would have sever panic attacks, where he would have feelings of loss of control, trouble with breathing and he would be shaking and trembling. As a non medical practitioner, the effects I saw on him were, him. being agitated, restless and distressed. He would avoid situations in order to relieve uncomfortable feelings. He also found it difficult to concentrate on sessions and  would often avoid coming into the office as he soon grew a phobia about going out and seeing people. if you know someone who is suffering with anxiety there are things that you can do for them.  I allowed my client to talk and express how he felt. I realised that telling him to relax was not what he wanted to hear. Allow them to take deep breaths and give them reassurance.

The second type of mental health issue that service users I work with deal with, and currently still deal with is depression. This is probably well known already and the most common one. Anyone can feel unhappy and low at times in response to life events, such as illness, stress, bereavement, relationships, breakups, and so on. for some people, depression may begin for no apparent reason and become a long term condition. I have clients who have depression and then it goes away but is severe enough to disturb a person’s day to day routine. when we are working with service users who suffer from diagnosed depression, the health professionals split them into three broad categories.

  • Psychological- This is where a stressful or upsetting life event causes a persistent low mood, low self esteem and feelings of hopelessness about the future.
  • Physical or chemical- Depression is caused by changes in levels of chemicals in the brain. e.g. your mood can change as hormone levels go up and down.nThis is often seen in women as it is associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and the menopause.
  • Social- doing fewer activities or having fewer interests can cause depression or may happen because of depression.

I once had a service user who was severely depressed and wanted to harm themselves or want to commit suicide. It was very important for me to keep an eye on him and ask him if he had any plans or thoughts of harming himself.  The signs and symptoms I looked out for were, feeling hopeless and helpless and with thoughts of harming themselves or committing suicide, feeling very down and low in mood and becoming easily tearful. Another symptom can be blaming themselves, feeling unnecessarily guilty about things, they can appear to be very quiet and taking no interest in their surroundings and finally having disturbed sleep, and neglect of self care, for example, their appearance, eating, appetite changes (either much less or much more than usual;). My particular client went through effects such as being tired, and lacking in energy. His lack of motivation and finding it difficult to complete normal everyday tasks. He would often have difficulties concentrating and remembering things.  He would also feel anxious and appeared to be agitated at times and restless. There were also times when he would be angry and irritable and isolates himself and avoids contact with others, even myself. They often find it difficult to express themselves too.

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The next type of mental health disorder that I have encountered is people that suffer with  Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can happen after a traumatic event in someones life, in which somebody has been afraid that their life was under threat. Events can include natural disasters, experiences as part of someone’s job, e.g. fighting in the war, or even something traumatic in their everyday life such as a car accident, or being a victim of a violent assault. PTSD can also be developed as a persistent reaction to ongoing trauma, such as being a victim of domestic abuse. The Tamil client I was working with suffered from PTSD due to the war back home in Sri Lanka. His symptoms were, he was suffering from intrusive thoughts and images from the event which caused him to be irritable. He would mention that he was having flashbacks, and feeling as though the trauma is happening again. He could not sleep and on several nights, he would have nightmares. When we tried to explore this further, he would have intense distress in responding to any real or symbolic reminders of the trauma and it was soon apparent that he was also going through depression due to the trauma.  In our one to one sessions, it was apparent that he was having difficulty expressing affection, and he would cut him self of from feelings and be emotionally numb., and he would find it difficult to concentrate and listen to what I was saying. We would have certain conversations which would trigger his feelings and he avoids talking about it as it reminds him of the trauma. As a result of this trauma, it affected his lifestyle by not allowing him to socialise with other people,  and he found it difficult to stay in his job.

And finally last not least Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. This is a serious but treatable medical illness. It is marked by extreme shifts in mood, energy, thinking and behaviour. There is a strong link between stress and this disorder, which can be triggered when someone finds themselves in surroundings that are stressful for them. A person may be unaware of the changes in his or her behaviour or moods and the effect they have on others. Although I do not have any clients who have bipolar disorder, I have come across people who suffer from it through work, and also the character Dhanush played in the movie “Moonu” has bipolar disorder, and it became so severe that he killed himself. You will notice that someone who has bipolar disorder will have the following signs and symptoms. Extreme mood swings and severe depression, unpredictable or unexpected behaviour, unusual beliefs not based in reality, difficulties with eating and sleeping and lastly they will have thoughts of self harm or suicidal feelings. You may possibly see the following effects on them, talking at a fast rate, appear overly confident, and self impotent. They can be overactive and excitable in their behaviour.

With any of the above mental health disorders it is important to be sensitive and deal with the people suffering with delicacy. It is a sensitive topic and therefor it is important that we direct them in the right way. Ans remembering that you are not alone and there is help. The following link below directs you to a list of organisations that can help you in the best way.

Hope you enjoyed the read xx

Thank you 




“For a Dark Girl you are quite Pretty”

I would like to start by apologising to all the people that I may have offended with the above title, but this is a subject I feel quite strong about and I just needed to talk about it.

Whilst growing up, I have heard this sentence over a thousand times, both in English and in Tamil and for so long I thought about it and thought about why people say it. I have never been insecure about my skin colour and for those who know me personally, I have never complained about my skin colour either. I am comfortable in my skin, and personally I wouldn’t want to be any other colour.

The reason why I am talking about this now, even though I have heard this comment so many times before, is because I felt that it was time to put a stop to these types of comments and even though, me alone can’t make a change, I do hope that people reading this and relating to this will want to put a stop to these kinds of statements by spreading the word, or if YOU, yourself have said this to someone, then maybe you would consider restructuring your sentence and saying things like “you are pretty”, “you are beautiful” rather than “for a dark skin girl you are pretty you know”. Stop!

Recently I went to visit family, and for obvious reasons I cannot say where I went because then people who know me would know who I visited and more importantly this person’s identity is at loose! Anyway, so I went to see family and my aunt as usual analyses me and takes a good look at me and makes her usual comments and I as per usual do the same thing I have been doing for the past 12 years now, which is smile and walk away and just think what is that irritating noise.

So on this particular visit, we were all talking and having conversations about different subjects and bearing in mind, this room was mostly all women and some I don’t really know well, so you can imagine the kind of conversations that were had.  Latest Tamil serial gossip, new trending saree’s and fashion, people’s unreasonable period cycle and the best topic how to become fairer. As the conversation was flowing, and everyone was saying what creams they were using and what home made therapy they were doing, I decided to interrupt and say, “why aren’t you guys happy in your skin?” and to which some people smiled at me, some people said yes they were but still tried to become fairer and some just did not say anything. But my aunt looked at me and said ” you don’t need to worry Cathy, even though you have dark skin, you are pretty”, So at this point,  I am like “aww thanks, I must be really lucky then, coz imagine, if your dark skin and ugly”, she smiled at me not knowing how to react. She didn’t understand I was being sarcastic but she still laughed anyway. So I thought let’s leave it at that and that was the end of that conversation.

This is just one scenario, there have been plenty more over the years but as it’s happened so many times, I’ve stopped keeping count. For as far I can remember, comments like this have been said, just not to me but to many other dark skin girls in my family and within my friends circle, but luckily I come from a strong unit of friends and family and comments like this have never affected us. The problem wasn’t US it was THEM.  But it didn’t’ stop at comments like that, people would often say to me, “because your dark skinned, I don’t think that colour will suit you” or ” you should wear bright colours so that you stand out”. Right then! For generations and generations these are the kind of comments people pass at dark skin people, whether it is a male or a female and this attitude needs to stop.

In my mum’s side of the family, most of them are all light skinned, well actually they all are, except for myself and my aunt (not the aunt I was talking about before, this ones nicer!). My aunt, who is my mum’s sister was a big inspiration to me whilst growing up. She never had restrictions on what colours to wear and she would always wear bright bold colours. Whilst she was growing up, she was made fun of  and people would make similar comments to her about her skin colour but she told me that it never got to her, she just realised that in our community that sort of behaviour was normal and people felt so open to make comments like that. She didn’t care what people thought of her skin tone. In fact, being the only dark skinned sibling among her brothers and sisters, she wanted my mum to have a dark skinned baby, as this baby would be the first grandchild in their family. She prayed so hard that her prayers were finally answered. and a few years later along came me! My sister on the other hand, who is of a fairer skin tone gets all the glorified comments such as “why don’t you act in a movie and become an actress or become a model”!, but there have been times when she’s got the odd comments of “for a Tamil girl, your really light”. I guess I could keep going on.

Personally for me, I have never been insecure about my colour and felt like I needed to be a different tone. I am comfortable wearing this shade of brown and people’s comments and opinions do not impact me. I do not avoid wearing certain colours just because I am dark skin, and I am not scared of being in the sun, over the years I have learnt to look after my skin, not to become fairer but ensure my skin is healthy. I have never used fairness creams and I have not undergone any treatments to become lighter. I have friends who come from various different ethnic groups, who are all different skin tones and none us treat each other different due to our skin tones. I have been fortunate to have good Tamil friends who don’t recognise someones self worth by looking at their skin tone and most of them are beautifully dark skinned.

Colourism and social and economic discrimination based on our skin tone is indulged in our cultures as well as in other South and South east parts of Asia. Colourism and racism are two different things, it can decay among people in the same racial clang, against those of certain ethnicities and castes. People are conditioned into thinking that being dark skin tone is UGLY. A lot of powerful people in the world are dark skinned, Suresh Sriskandarajah, Martin Luther King, Nandita Das, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama, AR Rahman, and even Super Star Rajnikanth. There are probably another 100 names that I have failed to mention, and for that I apologise.

In all honesty I think I just wanted to share my experience and just get this message across. I do not know if my post will make an impact but for those of who do read this, I hope it does change the way we think about skin tones and if you are dark skinned then don’t be insecure and be proud of what your wrapped up in.

Yours truly,

Unapologetically a Dark skinned Tamil Girl xx

Hope you enjoyed the read 



I am a Probation Officer 👮 

You guys already know what this post is going to be about, so I will just go straight into it.

My friends and family know what I do, but when someone asks me where I work, and I say I am a Probation officer, I get the raised eyebrows and the strange confused looks. I don’t know if that’s because they don’t know exactly what that entails or they are genuinely concerned about my choice in career. And the best part is when I speak to other Tamil’s  in my community and I tell them what I do, and they ask me, “is that like a police officer?” or “are you are a court worker”. No! I am not trying to be funny, but that’s not their fault, I guess we come from a society, where Tamil people are more exposed to jobs like being a Doctor, Lawyer, engineer or an accountant. There is nothing wrong with those jobs, but I guess times have changed. But yes, they are kind of close to the answer, the courts and the police are linked with what I do. So I decided that I would write about my job and what it is that I actually do. Get up close and personal.

I am a probation officer, also known as an offender manager, but my actual refined job title is, Responsible Officer. For those of you who know me, the word responsible and me are very far apart, but that’s life. The technical definition for my job title is, ” A Probation officer manages offenders in order to protect the public and reduce the incidence of reoffending and rehabilitate them back in to the community. They work with offenders in courts, in the community and in custody to make communities safer”. But I guess this definition is very broad and so I will break it down for you in baby steps and tell you where I fit in.

Below is a step by step example, of the process that takes place before an offender comes to me, and then I will go into what it is that I actually do with them after. For the purpose of this blog, I am calling my offender Mufasa!

  1. Mufasa commits a crime – e.g Theft
  2. Mufasa goes to court
  3. Mufasa gets sentenced to imprisonment for less than 12 months with Post sentence supervision added to his sentence- e.g. 8 months
  4. Mufasa serves time in prison, depending on how long he was sentenced for. In this case 4 months, as 1 day spent in prison is equivalent to 2 days according to prison calculation.
  5. Mufasa is then released on licence and serves the rest of his sentence in the community, reporting to his local probation office weekly or monthly. So in this case, Mufasa will be with his Probation officer on licence for 4 months.
  6. Mufasa then gets transferred over to my organisation, where I work with him for his post sentence supervision.
  7. Mufasa’s post sentence supervision will expire after 8 months of working with me, as Post sentence supervision needs to be for a total of 12 months, and as he has served 4 months on licence in the community, he will be on Post sentence supervision for 8 months. And that’s a total of 12 months. viola!

I hope that wasn’t too confusing but I will elaborate more. 

The Offender Rehabilitation Act 1 (ORA) is the Act of Parliament which changes sentencing laws and extends probation supervision after release to offenders serving short term sentences. It also creates greater flexibility in the delivery of sentences served in the community. Still confused, Keep reading.

The ORA came into full force on 1st February 2015. At the heart of the reforms is the extension of supervision to offenders who are released after serving prison sentences of less than 12 months. This means that any person whose offence was committed on or after 1st February 2015, who is sentenced to a custodial term of more than 1 day, and is 18 years old or over when released, will now receive supervision in the community for the purposes of rehabilitation once their license period comes to an end. This further supervision period is what is now known as Post-Sentence Supervision (PSS).  The license and supervision periods will together make up 12 months. Depending on the length of the custodial sentence, the length of the supervision period can vary significantly:

  • Offender A is sentenced to two months in custody, he serves one month in prison, one month on license and receives an additional 11 months post sentence supervision.
  • Offender B is sentenced to 10 months in prison. He serves 5 months of this sentence in custody and then 5 months in the community, on license. He will then receive 7 months of support in the community.

I, my lovely friends, am the Post sentence supervision part, so I am quite a big deal.

Once the offender comes over to me, during his Post sentence supervision period, I will then work with him to “rehabilitate” him back into the community, providing the guy doesn’t want to commit another offence and start the whole process again. But hey, each to their own eh!

When I mean rehabilitation, I mean supporting him and getting him back to his normal lifestyle and ensuring that he does not re offend. I will have weekly, fortnightly, or monthly appointments with each offender, to identify their needs and find the best way to support them. I manage around 50-55 low to medium risk offenders and help them around housing, finance, drugs and alcohol misuse issues, employment, mental health issues and any other needs identified in their assessment. I make referrals to external agencies who are specifically trained in these departments to assist the offenders with their needs further. During the session, we will also talk about the offence and explore deeper into why it happened and how we can help them to not be in a situation again. The session framework that I, and most other officers use is the CRISSA model. In English this means, Check in, Review, Implement/ intervention, summarise, set tasks, appointments.

This basically means, I check in with them, see if any circumstances have changed since the last session, and go through their general engagement with the order. I review the previous session and any learning, and tasks set from the last time. We sit down and implement and come up with interventions that focus on a criminogenic need, linked to the sentence plan, for example thinking skills and attitudes. We then summarise the session we have had, set tasks if necessary that will be reviewed in the next session and finally set an appointment for the next session, whether is either weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

My favourite are my Tamil offenders, because after I have had a session with them, I do feel really good about myself, and feel like I have achieved something but more importantly I see a relief in their face, as they find me more approachable with any issues they have . I have some offenders, where English isn’t their first language and speaking to them in my ever so fluent Tamil really takes our relationship to another level, and the whole dynamics change, and they instantly ask me, where in Jaffna am I from. I guess that is part of building better relationships. But jokes aside, speaking to them in my mother tongue, Tamil,  opens a lot of room for conversation and they are able to understand the seriousness of all this much better and they become more compliant and comfortable during the session.

Not that I do not like working with other ethnic backgrounds, but I’m just a little protective of my own.  I like my job for various reasons, the kick and adrenaline I get out of it and I personally feel  that when I am working with these types of people, it is important not to judge. One of the things that I personally follow and have been doing, is not to read any offenders file before I have met them because on file, these guys could be the most horrific person, who have done the most terrible things but when you see them face to face they are so normal and friendly and just your average guy next door, so I tend to go into each session open minded and ensure that I don’t come across judgmental due to their offence, coz everybody makes mistakes and none of us are perfect, even me! And sometimes certain circumstances cause us to make irrational decisions.
I guess like any job, it has it’s pro’s and con’s, but I wouldn’t want to leave it just yet. There is still so much to learn, and I am still learning everyday. Each day  is not the same, and that is why I like it so much. I never know what to expect when I go through the doors. So I hope you were able to get a glimpse of what I do and that I explained it well enough, but in all honesty it’s these offenders that still keep me in my job. If there weren’t no criminals then I guess you wouldn’t need people like me doing our job and I bloody love my job!

Hope you enjoyed the read xx

The time I went to Sri Lanka with a friend

thumbnail_image1On a cold September evening, me and my friend, Jeya were thinking about where we wanted to go for my Birthday and Christmas this year. As my Birthday falls on the 25th December, I was a little restless of doing the same thing every year. Going to family parties, cutting a cake, eating the same typical food, people wishing me for Christmas and forgetting its my birthday and worse of all, some people giving me one present instead of two which was really annoying. So I asked Jeya if she wanted to go away this year for my Birthday and we could celebrate Christmas and New year there too and the idea sold well to Jeya.  We were soon thinking of ideal destinations. We thought of Singapore, Malaysia, somewhere in Europe, India and even Canada but we didn’t even consider our native country, Sri Lanka. After many if’s and But’s and what if’s, we decided to go with Sri Lanka. Jeya has never been before, and has started her own business venture, she thought it was ideal, as we would be killing two birds with one stone. As for me, I went in 2004, but A) I was a lot younger and B) I went with my family and did not actually see Sri Lanka properly except for visiting lots of families. And so it was confirmed, we were both flying to Bandaranike International Airport on Christmas eve for 3 weeks!

I am sure I do not need to go into details about the kind of conversations that took place in my house prior to me leaving, but the tickets were booked and there was no going back. This trip was happening one way or another.

Weeks flew by and the 24th December came around quicker than expected and we were all set to go. We left London Heathrow feeling both excited and anxious and not knowing what to expect. It was the first time, we were going after the conflicts in Sri Lanka and although we were both mentally strong, we were slightly concerned for our safety as we were two girls travelling to a country, which is not the idealistic destination for a girls holiday. None the less, we left and stopped over in Kuwait for our transit for a few hours, but in the nicest way possible, it wasn’t Dubai Airport so it wasn’t anything fancy. Finally we were on our connecting flight, and our final destination was Colombo, Bandaranike International Airport. 

The flight from Kuwait to Sri Lanka was roughly 5 hours and the clocks had struck 12 and half way during our flight, it was my 27th Birthday. Jeya had quiet words with the cabin crew and they gave me a surprise by cutting a small cake and singing Happy Birthday for me as well as presenting me with a kids watch as my gift! It was really nice of them and I did feel a little spoiled. So thanks Jeya!

It was 5:25 am and we had arrived. I still remember getting of the flight and that hot air hitting my face as it was really warm and humid. We successfully got passed customs and immigration and our designated driver was on the other end waiting for us with a bouquet in his hands. But he was the manager and the actual driver was waiting for us in the van and he was one of he most caring and nicest humans I had met on my trip, but I will talk about him more later.

During the three weeks we were in Sri Lanka, we were travelling around, covering allot of the main places in the country. It was a beautiful road trip. The first two days were in Galle, followed by a few nights in Kandy, then travelling up a little north to Matalay. After spending a night in Matalay, we drove towards our New Year Eve’s plan, which was in Pasikuda. New year’s day we took another road trip to Trinco and spent a few days relaxing in our beautiful resort with our own private pool. Finally the last 10 days of our holiday was in our mother land, Jaffna, where we shared lots of tears, laughs and met the most amazing people that we couldn’t ever forget.

My Birthday turned out to be an unforgettable one and no lie, I cut five birthday cakes in one day and I even got to have dinner by the sea with my feet in the sand! Not forgetting to mention the hotel that we stayed in. Saying it was beautiful is an understatement. It was surrounded by breathtaking views and the hospitality of the hotel staff was just purely wonderful. They looked after us, like Family. If your travelling to Galle, whilst in Lanka, then I highly recommend “Villa Republic”. The rooms are massive and spacious and you do feel like a princess during your stay. The two nights we stayed there, we were taken care of and fed with the most authentic and delicious Sri Lankan food and Jeya even had the chance to cook with the chef and learn some trade secrets in the kitchen.

Following Villa Republic, we stayed in many other beautiful hotels, Yale Kandy, in Kandy, Amaya Beach Hotel in Pasikuda, and Uga Beach in Trinco. We were truly blessed to stay in these stunning resorts and thanks to Jeya for finding these undercover hotels. But I will go into the details of each hotel in another post because I personally think that everyone should visit these hotels.

During our last 10 days in Jaffna, we stayed at Jeya’s family friends home, in a small area of Jaffna called Chundukuli. This home, and all the memories made will be cherished for ever. Beautiful bonds were made and we cried so much with laughter. In a short space of time friends became family. We visited so many different places whilst in Jaffna. The famous Nallur Temple, and Nainatheevu temple, met the remainder of my dad’s family in Jaffna, Saw the school both my mum and dad went to and even saw the home that my mum grew up in. We visited many different orphanages around Jaffna and always left feeling crap about ourselves. It definitely made me see life in a different perspective and taught me to be happy with what I have and since being back I have been more appreciative. It was definitely an emotional trip and at every orphanage we visited, we met such strong and motivating people, who all had a story to share, which made me rethink about things I consider to be first world problems. It was definitely an emotional trip. Overall Jaffna was a heart wrenching and unforgettable place, it was definitely not like my parents had said it would be, but then again they have seen Jaffna in a completely different dimension to me and I will never come to terms with the things they have witnessed and been through whilst they were growing up in Jaffna. But whilst I was there, I felt safe and everyone I met, treated me like one of their own. Even our driver, who we spent most of our time with whilst travelling was a gem of person and ensured that we were safe and comfortable at all times. Our safety was in his hands, (literally) and in return for looking after us so well we taught him how to speak English! We didn’t entirely succeed but the one thing he managed to get right each time was “can you hear me”! 

Time flew by quicker than anticipated and our holiday had come to an end.  I flew back a few days before Jeya and when you’ve had an amazing time, like I did with great company,  the thought of flying back on a 12 hour flight on your own was the most depressing thing. But it had to be done, and I landed back in London Heathrow, safely and all in once piece. My Sri Lanka holiday was unforgettable and having a great travel companion like Jeya by my side through all the ups and downs we witnessed was truly a blessing.

Sri Lanka 2017 here I come….


Thank you all for reading xx