June 21, 2021

Mandy Ogunmokun


Mandy Ogunmokun is a former prostitute, drug addict and inmate. She grew up in an abusive home, where her mother and grandmother were drug abusing prostitutes who first sold her for sex when she was just 4 years old. She spent her formative years on the streets, in and out of Holloway Prison and trying to score her next heroin hit. After years of abuse, she got clean, got her first job at the age of 45 and now she runs the Treasures Foundation, helping vulnerable women as they come out of prison, to give them a better chance in life. 
A warning that this episode may contain triggers for some listeners. This episode also contains some offensive language. 

www.treasuresfoundation.org 


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Transcript

What Doesn't Kill Us: The Podcast. An Interview with Mandy Ogunmokun, former prostitute and founder of the Treasures Foundation

[00:00:00] Welcome to What Doesn't Kill Us, I'm Kaija Larke and my guest today on the podcast grew up in an abusive family home. Her mother and grandmother were both drug abusing prostitutes, who first sold her for sex at the age of four. Mandy Ogunmokun spent her formative years on the streets in and out of prison and trying to score her next hit of heroin, but she got clean, got her first job at the age of 45, and she now runs the Treasures Foundation helping other vulnerable women as they come out of prison into a better chance in life. Just a warning that this episode may contain some triggers for some listeners and this episode also contains some offensive language. If you are offended, I apologise.

[00:00:48] Well, Mandy, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today, just tell me a little bit to start with about Treasures Foundation and where you're at now with it.

[00:00:59] Okay. So at Treasures, we believe that within every woman - well, not just women - in every human being that there's treasures, and that's been hidden through life circumstances. So Treasures is supported housing and it's not an institution. They're homely like, three three bedroom houses, that just bring a lot of love, because we find that, well, we find that women that are used to institutions like prisons and hospitals and children's homes, find it difficult to adapt to just a normal loving home.

[00:01:35] Are the rooms always full at the moment?

[00:01:38] Today they will be because another lady's coming from prison today. So they are, relatively, always full, yeah.

[00:01:47] And, let's just completely backtrack to where this journey all started. Your childhood was I was going to say unconventional, but really it was, it was abusive, wasn't it? It was dysfunctional and it was pretty horrendous by most people's standards. Tell me a little bit about what it was like for you growing up with your family.

[00:02:13] OK, so for me, I always felt not a part of my family because obviously I had to shut down to being able to say I'm afraid or anything like that, because that just wasn't in the vocabulary.

[00:02:27] It was kind of like, you know, you didn't show emotions. If you cried, you'd get another slap. And I get where she was coming from. It's like preparing us for, for the street: you don't show emotions, you don't cry. And you don't tell anybody what's going on in the house. And now I understand it, that all them secrets and all them buried emotions have come out sideways.

[00:02:52] You know, my mum was an alcoholic. She was an addict. Sexual abuse ran through her life. It also ran through our lives too. My mum, my grandmother, she too was a prostitute. And you know, so I don't know how far back that went, but it was - it was normal, but it wasn't normal if that makes sense.

[00:03:14] Normal for you in your house. Yeah.

[00:03:18] And you sort of touched on, on the sexual abuse there. I mean, your, your mother was, was selling you from a really young age, wasn't she? How did you, how did you understand what was going on in your world at the time?

[00:03:35] I didn't understand it. I didn't have the capacity to understand it. I just did what I believed I was meant to do. It's only later on and getting into recovery myself, that the understanding has come slowly through my process of healing, if that makes sense.

[00:03:55] Yeah. I mean, yeah, it does. And in terms of the, you know, you said you were surrounded by drug abuse as well, and you were quite young, weren't you, when you, when you first started sort of dabbling in drugs, was that part of just sort of what was almost expected of the life that you were in? Or was that a way of coping with what was happening to you and by blocking out what was happening?

[00:04:18] Do you know what? When I think about it, right, I mean, I hated the fact of what my mum was doing. And I tried from a very young age, I was trying to stop her, trying to look after her and it's as if I said, well, I might as well just join you. Is this like, yeah, I might as well just join you. You know? So I started doing stuff that I didn't like.

[00:04:39] I mean, I can't stand alcohol. I can't stand the smell of it, the taste of it. And I still can't, but I still went against that and just started drinking with my mum and stuff. And I did that with everything to be fair. When I picked up my first cigarette, I didn't like it. I was coughing and choking, but because of the in crowd, I mastered it.

[00:05:00] Was it, do you think it was almost a way of kind of showing your mum that you were, you were sort of with her and, and, and almost to kind of try and get that love and that, that relationship there that was sort of so dysfunctional?

[00:05:12] Absolutely. I felt like it made me close to closer to my mum, yeah.

[00:05:19] And was your, was your dad around at the time?

[00:05:22] No, no. I was born in London and then my dad, my dad and my mum's relationship was, was not normal. It was manipulated through my grandmother who was like some kind of, she wasn't a pimp, but she sold my mum at the end of the day. And then - but from once my mum got pregnant with us, with me and my brother and then my sister was in my mum's belly, my grandmother - my dad stopped, stopped, like, giving them money. So what happened was my grandmother removed as all. Now we're mixed race. My mum's white, my nan's white, removed us, took us to Yorkshire - York - which was absolutely devastating. My grandmother was pregnant and she's just said, she's not having no more niggers in the house, and my children, my sister, the one where my mum was pregnant, ended up in care for her whole life because my grandmother wouldn't have another nigger in the house. And, and I say that because it was the sixties and, and colour - being mixed race at them times, there was a lot of ignorance and, and it was just the wrong colour to be. But my grandmother did learn to love us when she got to know us.

[00:06:51] Was part of going to York, a fresh start for you? I mean, what was that like? Kind of, leaving?

[00:06:58] It was devastating. Yeah. It was literally devastating. Now my dad's not about and my older brother, who was like a protector, so now I'm just in the grip of my mother who had mental health problems through her own self being sold, as a child.

[00:07:16] I've got my grandmother who was still selling my mother. So my grandmother's clients was now with my mother and then in turn become with me. So we was just stuck in that.

[00:07:33] It's just that generational cycle that is so abusive, but so incredibly difficult to break, isn't it? And you, you ended up working on the streets and then ultimately ending up sort of in and out of prison. What was that like for you, being in prison? I mean, was that almost a Safe Haven for you away from what was happening in the family home?

[00:07:56] Well, to be fair, I mean, that was years later I ended up in prison. So I've moved from Yorkshire back to London. My dad ran gambling houses in the West End and, to be fair, my grandmother said my dad was dead.

[00:08:10] So I grew up believing he was dead. But when my grandmother died, my mum, in a drunken state gave me my dad's number and I phoned it and he was so excited - it was a gambling house number - and I ended up going to London. And that, that was, I think, from about the age of 14, 13? And then I just grew up in another lifestyle of the West End, and gambling houses and stuff.

[00:08:39] And you were quite well into your own drug taking by that point as well, weren't you?

[00:08:45] Yeah, well, yeah, I did. I mean, like, I was always dabbling in cannabis pills, cocaine, and then crack came on the scene and heroin. It was the heroin that was the one that I absolutely fell in love with. Heroin became my lover and my best friend to be fair. And I started just by injecting. That was my first time I took it.

[00:09:14] I was going to say, can you remember the first time you took it?

[00:09:17] I do. I felt like - this is it! I've found it! Because it felt like I was in a cocoon wrapped up in cotton wool. And I just thought, as I'm doing it now, just so safe, but as I'm doing it, I can go into that foetal position. So it's that place of safety. So I now understand that I was trying to get back into that place of safety, which to be fair was only in my mum's womb. That's the only place I was safe. I felt safe.

[00:09:46] How did you eventually come off the drugs? Because you know, heroin is one of the hardest drugs to come clean from, isn't it? What was that kind of moment for you when you decided enough is enough? I need to take my life on a different path here. How did you come to that realisation? And how on earth did you make that happen?

[00:10:10] Well, to be fair, I think it took many, many years for me to get to that place of trying to control it and stop taking heroin, but just take crack or just snort coke or stuff like that.

[00:10:23] But the criminality obviously would always lead me back into prison and I ended up with four children. And three of them was addicted to heroin and that broke my heart because as a child, I swore I wouldn't be like my mum, even though I love my mum, I swear I wouldn't be like her. And I could see that my behaviours was exactly the same, which I didn't understand I was an addict the same as my mum. So if I take a drug, I can't stop. So I'd end up going in and out, in and out of prison over the 20 years that I was using. And I remember being pregnant and my waters breaking, but I didn't, wouldn't go to hospital. I just wanted to go and score. I mean, and that's the powerlessness of it.

[00:11:06] And my son, it was touch and go whether he lived or died, but I didn't know what to do when, you know, in that, when he was in the incubator, I was smoking crack and that was cutting me to pieces because I know as a child, I wanted my mum. But I didn't understand that once I put the drug in me, I can't stop.

[00:11:26] I didn't understand that I suffer with the disease of addiction. You know, that creates a phenomenal craving once I put one in me, I didn't get that. And I ended up going in eight different rehabs to try and stop. So it wasn't like, I wasn't didn't want to, I wanted to, I didn't even know I wasn't present.

[00:11:46] I remember being in one rehab and then the therapist was saying, where are you? And I was getting so frustrated so I was saying, I'm in front of you. Can't you see me? I didn't get it until one day I was in one of the group rooms and I noticed this painting on the wall and I went, oh my Gosh. When did you get that?

[00:12:04] And that painting, it had been there for years and I was in this specific group room morning and afternoon, and I'd never seen it. And I thought, oh my gosh, that's what he means - I'm not present. So from a very young, early age, I learned how to disconnect and I didn't know, I wasn't present.

[00:12:22] But I get, I mean, that was part of your survival, wasn't it? It was I'm guessing the only way you could survive with everything that you were going through when you were younger?

[00:12:32] Absolutely. But when I was getting older, it wasn't serving me no purpose because I couldn't be present for my children. I couldn't, and this was all breaking my heart. So I kept trying to get off drugs. And one time I came out of Holloway prison, down to King's Cross to go and pick up something because I couldn't live outside the prison without having something in me. In fact, releasing me from prison was like putting a two year old child outside the gate and say, go on, make your own way.

[00:12:59] I didn't know how to do it. You know, I didn't have the ability to do that, you know, so I ended up going down Kings Cross and seeing somebody that I knew who was like me, that was clean. And he gave me the solution.

[00:13:13] I was going to say, so in terms of - you've been in and out of Holloway Prison several times by this point and each time you come out, what support was there for you? Where was there for you to live? What charities or support or services were there to actually try and keep you on a straight path and keep you from going back into prison? What, what was there for you?

[00:13:35] To be fair, I didn't know of anything. And there were things going on, but like I said, I was totally shut down, disconnected and didn't have the ability to even see anything.

[00:13:51] I was just so closed-minded, in my own little world and that was it.

[00:13:56] What was the moment for you that changed all that then?

[00:14:00] I wanted to live. I want it to be a mum. I want it to be a mum and each time I tried it my way, it didn't work. So, you know, and each time it didn't work, I was slowly getting to my rock bottom and my rock bottom for me - when I didn't have any other ways to try it - I'd exhausted everything, you know? So when somebody suggested something to me, I ended up, I ended up in this rehab, right? And this woman that I knew, she smoked, I smoked with her in King's Cross, but the difference was she was clean and I wasn't. So, whatever she should ask me to do, I did it. I followed an instruction wherever she said to me to do - I did.

[00:14:42] And, like I said, my faith is a massive part of my recovery, you know, so I followed somebody that was doing something. I tried something different. It says like "insanity is doing the same thing, repeating the same mistakes and hoping that something changes" - that is insane. So I started to do something different.

[00:15:08] And you, you eventually became clean with the help of a church, didn't you, is that right? You mentioned your faith there. How did the church help you?

[00:15:19] I think what it was, through my faith and that, I mean, the pastors and the people - there was all ex-drug addicts. Do you know what I mean? So I see hope - I felt okay, so you've been where I've been and you're not doing what - you know what I mean - you've changed, you know? So there was people that could speak my language and you know - but then I needed to move on from there. It wasn't, I mean, I was 10 years clean and then... No, five years clean and then I got my first job was in Holloway prison. And then I started so, so I was in the church and that was amazing and brilliant, but I needed to be also outside of the church and be in, like, the real world. I could say the real world, you know? So, I started like going into Holloway and then I ended up getting a job in Holloway, which was the most...

[00:16:19] And that was your first proper paid job, wasn't it? And how old were you?

[00:16:24] Okay, so I was about 45.

[00:16:30] Wow.

[00:16:30] About 45. And it was like, oh my gosh! And it showed me how fearful I was of the authority. Um, and, and how inadequate I even felt like to pick up a phone if the phone rang. I wouldn't want to pick it up because I thought that I couldn't talk their language, you know, so I'd mimic...

[00:16:50] You didn't know what to do, how to be in that sort of professional situation and environment. I mean, it's...

[00:16:56] I didn't, so what I did, I started to mimic what they were saying then when I started to feel secure in who I am, I started just to be Mandy and say what I say, do you know what I mean? And speak how I speak, but in the beginning I just mimicked and mimicked and mimicked them. And then I started to be me, because the mimicking wasn't me.

[00:17:19] And what was it like being back, you know, having, having been in and out of Holloway prison for so many years, what was it like being back in there? Seeing those girls and women who had been, who were where you had been, and then sort of you're back in, and you're able to try and help them and support them and to really understand the place that they're at right now?

[00:17:40] I loved it. I loved it. I felt like I'd come home. I felt like - I felt really safe. I felt like, because of who I was, and my life had been transformed. I felt like I had something to give and I had a lot of respect in there. I remember doing an assessment with somebody and I said, oh, when did you first start taking drugs? And she said, don't you remember Mand? And I thought, oh my God, I didn't give it to you? And she goes, no, it was in prison, it was Christmas, and we'd gone in a cell and started smoking heroin. Do you know what I mean? So it was, it was quite... A lot of things happened in there.

[00:18:19] And I guess there must have been at that point, a lot of women in there that, a lot of other women in there that you had known either from the streets or from being in and out of prison yourself?

[00:18:30] Absolutely people that... and you know what was great is, is I was given favour, do you know what I mean? Because like, I ended up getting an award at Holloway. I won an award at Holloway and it was the Butler Trust. It wasn't the award, it was a commendation. So I went to Buckingham Palace, and Princess Anne gave the commendation certificates.

[00:18:52] And I remember being in there and they said, oh, to my son, are you proud of your mum coming to Buckingham Palace? And he goes, nah, not really. He said, I'm proud of my mother every day. And that really shows. What I've put in - sewn into - my children because I'm coming from a very materialistic, that money was like a God, something that I worshiped.

[00:19:11] Do you know what I mean? So, it was me being shown that I'm sewing the right principles into my son, you know, that Buckingham palace, the interior didn't phase him. He was more that no, I'm proud of my mum every day. Buckingham Palace cannot make me more proud of my mum, do you know what I mean? And that meant so much more for me. So I got that commendation.

[00:19:36] What was it like for you though? That moment of being there and being at the palace and the sort of - the establishment recognising the work that you've been doing and actually how, how far you've come and how much you've turned your life around at this point?

[00:19:52] To be honest, I missed it. I missed the moment because I was so busy, because my head can be so racey. I'm thinking, all right, been there, done that. I want to leave now. And I'm in Buckingham Palace! And I'm saying, I want to go now. And they said, you can't go, Princess, Anne's got to leave first. And I wasn't happy about that. I thought, well, you know what I mean, my attitude, I didn't, I didn't fully grasp what was going on.

[00:20:15] It was like, well, what can't I leave? You know? So I ended up going and talking to the butlers. I thought, I don't even want, I want to go, you know, so I missed, I missed the moment. And that was something that I've learned in, in my recovery is like - so much vast, great things happen, but sometimes I miss it because now I'm on the next thing, what I want to do.

[00:20:35] Yeah

[00:20:36] No, I'm learning, I'm learning this. So whilst I was in Holloway, there was, I'd see women coming in and out and honestly, they'd come back in. Like, they've come out of a - I can't imagine, but you know, like the World War trenches, they come in really walk in like something out of Thriller. Really, really smashed to pieces. And I'm looking at them, and I'm looking at the women that did good work in, in the prison and felt safe and started to transform and then go back out. And then, you know, and I thought, nah, there's got to be more than this, you know? And I knew that there wasn't enough supported houses, giving the support because there is supported houses that - they get a lot of money, to be fair, and they're not doing what - what's on the ticket. And even the system at that time, they didn't have any safe places for women to go to. Even the approved premises was running rife with drugs, you know, and, and it was breaking my heart because we're real people.

[00:21:39] People are just caught in that cycle then, aren't they, of coming out from prison into one of these houses, where they're then accessing the drugs again, and then - back in that cycle of crime and back into prison?

[00:21:52] And back in. Sometimes I think the system don't understand what's needed. They think, and even, even rehab - giving you 12 weeks rehab - what? I mean, it's good, but come on, let's get it right. 12 weeks rehab, 12 weeks therapy is not gonna be a solution for me at all.

[00:22:15] How long, just to put that into context for people that haven't been in that situation, how long have you been in therapy?

[00:22:23] Me, I've gone back into therapy now, but I've been in my process of recovery for 20 years since I entered into it. I'm still learning. I'm still, you know what I mean, going through, through my stuff, but today when I'm going through it, it's like, I'm kind of like, bring it on. Instead of wanting to run. It's like this morning I woke up and I just feel really heavy. And, and the, you know, the old me would have wanted to go back to bed phone on, and lie that I'm sick and all that.

[00:22:54] But I know that that's not a solution for me. I know that that would take me into a dark place. So I get up and I show up. And I do what I need to do, you know, I'm going through it now and you know what, at the end of the day, I'll make it through the end of the day without picking up and using.

[00:23:11] And I'll be so grateful that I made it because what I'm feeling at the minute, and I think I'm in grief because my son died of this disease when he was 21, you know, he didn't, you know, he just couldn't, he didn't have the ability, to stop. Because some people can say, just stop using, oh, come on.

[00:23:29] I remember, I remember going to Turkey with my sister, right, and she left all of her methadone. She lost her suitcase with all her methadone in it. And I used to say to her, just come off it. You know, because I'd done that. And we was in the hotel and in the room and she fell asleep and, oh my gosh, when I heard her in her sleep crying and screaming and petrified and then woke up shaking, saying - please don't let me, don't let me go back to sleep. Don't let me go back to sleep, she was traumatised. So because she didn't have her stuff, that stuff was subduing all this trauma. My sister remembers everything about the sexual abuse. I didn't, my memories came back in when I was 40, when I got into recovery.

[00:24:15] So my sister remembers everything. So then it give me the understanding and plus the mental health side, that when, you know, the mental health and the detox, it has to go hand in hand. But a lot of the time the system wants : Stop the drugs and then we'll - Come on! And then we'll address the mental health. Are you mad? Because that's you...

[00:24:37] Yes they're so interlinked.

[00:24:38] Absolutely. Absolutely. As you're reducing off this, the mental health is going like that. So obviously you're going to need to go back on to that, the drugs to try and arrest it. So I'm a really, a bit firm, I'm a bit really hurt with the mental health side of things, how it's not responded to quicker, you know, I don't know how they expect people with mental health to wait on waiting lists when they've got really real issues, voices in their head, telling them to kill themselves, jump off bridges, jump on trains. You know, living with that torment 24/7, and you're saying, oh, we'll give you an assessment in a few weeks. I don't get that. I don't get that. Do you know what I mean? I mean, cause like we learn to present ourselves. We've got all these masks on, you know, cause even my sister can talk to people she'll have a mask on she's all right. She ain't all right.

[00:25:37] You know, she's not all right.

[00:25:40] Yeah. She's just learned a way of coping and presenting a version of herself to the world.

[00:25:46] But not coping, not coping at all. And I'm just really, you know, My heart grieves. My heart grieves.

[00:25:56] Is your sister still still using?

[00:25:59] No, my sister's abstinent and mental health is, is sorted out now, but it's been a battle. It's been a fight. And that's where - I believe - I believe that's my purpose. I'm just going to jump onto the Olympic torch. I carried the Olympic torch.

[00:26:14] Well, yeah, I was going to ask you about that when you were saying about Buckingham Palace and all these amazing things happened. And one of those was, was carrying the Olympic torch to the Guildhall, wasn't it? How did that feel to be part of such an amazing moment for the whole country?

[00:26:30] To be fair, I was laughing because as I was running down that red carpet but, and they was blowing the trumpets, I was laughing. I said, God, you're so funny. I was a heroin-crack addict, thief and a prostitute, and look at me now. And when I got on the platform, there was a lady, whoever she was said, how come you got to do that? And I said, I was a heroin-crack addict. And she just, her jaw just dropped. Do you know what I mean, but that's not who I am today. And that's why I feel like a carry the torch. I carry the light for women that haven't got a voice.

[00:27:08] And the Treasures Foundation was set up for that very purpose, wasn't it? To help vulnerable women as they're coming out of prison and to provide them with that safe home and safe space that you struggled so much to find yourself, when you were coming out of prison. How did that come about? Because it's quite a leap, isn't it, from, from you being in and out of prison yourself, and then getting your job back in Holloway Prison. But then to be at the position where you are able to have this facility, these amazing houses, where you can actually help to protect and help other vulnerable women to get back on onto a healthy, better track of life.

[00:27:49] It came from a very rich man who is in recovery, who wants to give back. He wants to give back. He's so grateful for his own life and wants to give back. And I was speaking somewhere, sharing I need houses for women and he came up to me and he said, Mandy, I've got a house. But obviously I don't believe him because I'm not used to people being nice to me unless they're going to take something or rob me.

[00:28:13] So I'm thinking that he must be after me and I didn't - I just blanked him. Then a year later, I'm speaking again. He said, I'm a married, successful businessman and I've got a house. So I went and took that one house and then. And then I ended up still working in the prison. I didn't want to give up my job. And I realised how institutionalised and safe I felt there.

[00:28:35] And then he texted me and said, Mandy, come and have a look at these free houses. And I'm getting really flustered, afraid, afraid of responsibility, because the more bigger you do things, the more responsibility that is.

[00:28:50] But you've had this idea and you're wanting to do it, but then actually suddenly the reality that this could become a reality is terrifying.

[00:28:58] Absolutely terrifying. But when I think what I used to do out on the street, do you know what I mean? The thieving and the creeping and, and all that kind of stuff. Do you know what I mean? You know, I mean... that in itself is horrendous. But, but it still takes courage to do that. Do you know what I mean to go against the law? It's still got some kind of... so anyway, so I ended up coming to have a look at the three houses and saying to him that, I'll take them. But I'll have to leave the prison. And he said, whatever the prison's paying you, I'll pay you. And we always, you know - my faith tells me the provision is in the vision.

[00:29:44] The provision is in the vision. So we've got these houses, we've got the women and, you know, during the pandemic, we've actually fundraised 20,000 pound for South Africa because we go to South Africa once a year. And work with the gang members and the addicts out there. So we raised that money and there's a lot of good stuff going on out there.

[00:30:04] We've managed to build a gym. Like I said, all the women are on therapy. We've got the money and this is what we do. So like, if there's any retreats going, our fundraiser fund-raises for retreats, you know, any college courses. We've put different girls on different courses.

[00:30:22] So how many girls do you have living in the houses at the moment and how long are they typically there for?

[00:30:29] We've got eight women and that's another thing they're not - so there's no little box that says 12 weeks, tick, we've achieved that. No, you haven't achieved nothing. Sorry. So there's no time limit on these ladies because we have women that come in and then - examples like women that have come in that won't get in the bath unless the houses are empty. Now, we might not be able to identify that for a while because they can keep it hidden.

[00:30:59] But then after a while, they start to be able to get in the bath. A woman who now works for us, she's one - she works with us now - she couldn't get undressed to go to bed for a year because she was petrified of her abuser coming through the door. Then we had women that, with their bulimia , wanted to keep it a secret. So they'd be vomiting in carrier bags and hiding it in their bedrooms. Do you know what I mean? And we take it like - success for me is when you come out of the bedroom and vomit in the toilet. So success for me is when you eat, you gorge on your food in front of everybody. You don't have to hide it.

[00:31:36] And success for me is when you can come down in the morning meeting and say, you know what? I was sick last night. For me from once you're not keeping that secret a secret, then when it's exposed into the light, it can - work can be done. You know, we have women reunited with their children that they've not been with or not seen for many years, you know, and this is what, what it takes and that's success.

[00:32:02] And what are your hopes for Treasures Foundation in the next kind of five to 10 years? What does continued success look like for you?

[00:32:14] Okay. So the hope is like more, more houses, more houses. And like we're looking at, at the minute, we're getting more mental health. When I say mental health, mental health in the need of medication, in the sense of women cutting up and stuff like that. Again, we've had, we have women in here and that, and our success, we look at - where they don't cut up no more.

[00:32:39] So I want more houses where we can have different, houses for young, young, young women, you know. And houses for - this is crazy - we've actually got one coming, a kid leaving care that left care that ended up in prison. Do you know what I mean? So working with this. So more - there needs to be more houses.

[00:33:03] And it must make a huge difference to the women, both those that you worked with at Holloway prison, and now the women that you help through the Treasures Foundation, because they know that you've had that lived experience, that you've suffered that abuse that you have had those experiences on the streets, that you have been there with the drugs and that you understand where they're coming from?

[00:33:24] Absolutely. And they know that. Do you know what? On the street I was loyal and I'm loyal, loyal. If I say that I'm going to stick by you and support you from once you've got the willingness, we'll do this, we'll get through this from once you you're willing, you know, I mean, to have the faith and belief, that it's possible for you. We'll do this. We're not gonna let you go. We'll fight, we'll battle. We'll be your voicepiece out there to whoever. Do you know what I mean? Because the thing is right, my language might not be too articulate, but you know what - evidence, the evidence, I don't have to, talk the English dictionary. I am evidence and, and that's all that matters.

[00:34:08] And I have to ask, have you forgiven your mother?

[00:34:13] Oh my gosh. Do you know what I was? And this is so - when I was still using and I've gone up, but the difference was something changed on the inside. Like my faith I've gone. My faith. I have asked my God into my life.

[00:34:33] And so I had to do a lot of work on the inside, but I didn't understand none of that, but I've gone to my mum to go and get some money for some crack. And as I've gone there, I said, mum, I forgive you. And I'm sorry, because I used to fight her. I want to say the sexual abuse stuff, I was sexually abused as a young child, but when I got older, I would, I would fight my mum, but I didn't know why I was fighting her because I'd buried the abuse stuff.

[00:34:59] So I would, I would fight and stuff. And I said, I'm sorry, mum, for fighting you and my mum, my mum, she said, sorry. And she touched my head and the love that was there for about 60 seconds. And then I remembered that I'd come for some crack and then it went, but I experienced that love in 60 seconds.

[00:35:20] And then, and then three weeks later, my mum died and my mum, but what I recognize about forgiveness, you forgive and you forgive and you forgive, you know, you forgive it. It's an action, it's something that you say, you forgive and then, and then something else will come up where you'll have forgive again, forgive it.

[00:35:40] I had to forgive myself for even feeling the way I did towards my mum. And a lot of the times when my head can go into wanting to punch it, because my head is the most, my head is judge and jury. I've got a judge and jury in my head that wants to condemn me every time. So I've started to listen to how, how my head, how my head talks to me.

[00:36:02] So when I hear myself being really critical and downputting, I say, Mandy, I forgive you, you know.

[00:36:09] And you wouldn't talk to somebody else in the way that your mind talks to you, would you?

[00:36:13] Not at all, not at all. I'm saying not at all. I probably might, but I wouldn't like to talk to anybody the way my head talks to me. And if I do talk to somebody the way my head talks to me, I'm able to go and say, sorry, now! Before I wouldn't, I wouldn't! Today I can say, you know what? I'm really sorry.

[00:36:37] Well, the absolute best of luck with the continued expansion of the Treasures Foundation and all the amazing work that you're doing to help those vulnerable women as they come out of prison and hopefully take their lives on a different journey. And thank you so much for talking to me today, Mandy, you're a true inspiration.

[00:36:55] Thank you. Thank you.

[00:37:00] And if you'd like to support the Treasures Foundation, you can find out more at treasuresfoundation.org.uk. Now my next guest has been riding motorbikes pretty much since he could walk, but one fateful day at the Isle of Man TT, almost put an end to that - and to his life. Scott Richardson was lucky to survive his crash on a day when five others didn't.

[00:37:24] Just a month later, he defied death once again. Since then he's represented his country at multiple sports, starred in Hollywood blockbusters, and now he works with other amputees to help them regain independence after injury.

[00:37:39] I just, unfortunately on the first lap of the first race, I came around a corner, this Ballaspur where I used to go and watch with my dad, and there was a damp patch in the road and the front tyre lost adhesion. And I went feet forward into a dry stone wall at about a hundred miles an hour.

[00:37:55] If you've enjoyed this podcast so far, then please subscribe and review and you can find out more on all the usual social media platforms.