5 years after appearing in our Christmas Appeal, we spoke to Chrissy to find out how she is getting on, and the impact the VRF grant has had on her and her family.


In 2018, Chrissy featured in our Christmas Appeal after securing a place to live through a Vicar’s Relief Fund grant after her release from prison.

Three years before that Appeal, Chrissy was sentenced for conspiracy to supply drugs, and had spent years of her adult life battling substance misuse. A difficult time, but one Chrissy says was the best thing that could have happened – it was an opportunity to rid herself of the drugs and make a new start for herself. During her time at HMS Styal, Chrissy enrolled in a catering course which would provide her with valuable training – an asset for when she’d be released and looking for work.

Even with the catering qualification and her sober health, the approach to her release date was daunting, as she needed to secure a home and employment quickly. It was Sophie, a support worker at The Clink, who set about helping Chrissy to find both a job and a place to live. Very soon Chrissy had a job interview and was viewing properties. Chrissy nailed the interview, and with a £350 grant from the Vicar’s Relief Fund, they managed to secure a flat.

“It’s down to Sophie really, it really is. She bent over backwards to help me. There were some points when I was really low. Coming out I didn’t know if I was going to have somewhere to live, a job, and she’s just really given me the kick start because I’ve got further faster than I would have done without her. She’s been amazing, she really has.”

When we asked how she knew the flat was right for her, she told us:

“I knew I just wanted it to be here. I wanted this to be the start of the rest of my life again.”

And the start of the rest of her life it was.

5 years on, we visited Chrissy to catch up. Since her release from prison, she has stayed away from drugs, which she believes to be in part due to the VRF grant she received. The stable housing meant she could avoid sofa-surfing at friends’ houses, preventing her from falling back into old habits.

“I honestly believe from my heart that if I hadn’t got the home and the help from yourselves, I probably would have gone down the drug route again. These past five years would have been totally different, I could have even been dead.”

And her sobriety meant she could rebuild her family relationships, including her relationship with her Mum.

“My mum passed away a couple of years ago, but she got to see me clean, and she told me she was proud of me.”

Chrissy’s relationship with her daughter was also tested during her drug use and her time in prison, but over the past five years she’s been able to rebuild trust, and their relationship is better than ever. In that time, she also became a grandmother to her first grandson, and she now cherishes being able to spend time with him. Every other weekend is “Nana time”.

“She learnt from my mistakes, she’s brilliant. She’s a lovely, great young woman and I’m so proud to have her.”

Chrissy emphasises to us how grateful she still is to have received a VRF grant. Without the grant to secure accommodation for her, she says, she may have been left without a home to go to upon her release.

“I can’t even explain how it felt, because for so long I was inside, knowing I’m getting closer to being released, and still not having a clue where I was going. I just felt so relieved, and yourselves made it all possible. I’m forever grateful. I’m so happy just to have a roof over our head, because a lot of people get out of prison and they just haven’t got that.”

Reflecting on the past five years, and the opportunities she’s received through Clinks and St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity, Chrissy said:

“These past five years, I’ve got my life together. I’ve got my family. It just could have been so different, and I’m just grateful that it’s not.”

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