Nicole John: "Education brought me and my son together"

At 34 years old, Nicolle John’s priority is now her family; getting her son through his GCSEs, helping her stepdaughter adjust to motherhood and spending quality time with her partner. Having never worked before she went to prison, Nicolle is now holding down a full time job as a personal assistant and dreams of starting her own business, a social enterprise helping ex-prisoners and young people get away from crime and addiction. After studying a counselling course with help from PET, Nicolle has continued helping others since leaving prison in May 2011.Nicolle has completed a NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care at college which has also helped her reconnect with her son.

“Education has brought me and my son closer together. My son’s doing very well getting all As and Bs at school. We sit together and do our homework side by side and support each other,” she says.

Nicolle has volunteered with charities, schools and the police in running workshops and speaking about her experiences. Nicolle was bullied at school and for years, this affected her confidence and self-esteem. She got involved in a gang as a teenager, became addicted to drugs and was abused by her boyfriend.

In 2007, she received an indeterminate sentence for Public Protection (IPP) and served four years in prison. Whilst at HMP Send, Nicolle was supported by staff and charities who helped her overcome her addiction and focus on learning. Her motivation was always her son and in a letter to PET in 2009, Nicolle wrote: “I’ve got a beautiful ten year old son who lives with my mother and father but due to my active addition he lost me. I know without working on myself, bettering myself and working on my recovery daily I can’t be that mother he needs and wants. I need to keep pushing forth to achieve my goals.”

She completed several prison education courses, the ‘Rapt Programme’ which helped her get clean and starred in a 6-week theatre project ‘Pimlico Opera’ as well as her distance learning counselling course. Taking part in these activities sparked a passion for learning that she has continued to nurture in the community.