Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2018-19: Margaret is a Resource Worker for Women’s Justice Services in South Lanarkshire. She is Commended for developing community based forums to help women address their criminogenic needs, and for the advice and guidance she has provided over almost two decades.
Initial Nominator and Community Justice Co-ordinator Isobel McCarthy calls Margaret ‘one of the most dedicated members of staff I have ever had the privilege to meet’, who is ‘constantly seeking new opportunities for the women to become involved in new experiences. When one woman joined the hub with hearing difficulties, Margaret organised for all the women to get taster sessions in sign language and she is now completing British Sign Language with some of the women from the hubs.’ Isobel says that ‘Women contact her day and night and the stories of the support they have received are too many to list’ and describes ‘a really astonishing person who is very focused on the needs of others, and I have witnessed the kindness and support she gives to all.’
Local Butler Trust Champion and Team Leader Claire Borden adds that Margaret is, in her opinion ‘one of the most caring and inspirational individuals that I have had the pleasure to work with…She is a genuine and caring woman, who I feel privileged to know and work with and I am aware through discussions with a range of service users that her efforts and hard work have made such a difference to the lives of so many men and women in South Lanarkshire.’
Colleagues at NHS Lanarkshire Keep Well also remarked that ‘Women often tell us how she has helped them and as a team we know this to be true. Margaret does go above and beyond to make life easier and bearable in often difficult and complex situations that these women face on a daily basis.’
The women who are the focus of Margaret’s work were particularly keen to contribute testimonials, extracts from which are presented here verbatim: ‘Awww there’s just so much she’s done for me’, said one, while another called her ‘an amazing woman’. A third explained that ‘Margaret helped me stop becoming homeless. She’s done absolutely hundreds for me,’ while another wrote that she has been ‘going to the group for 4 years and not been in trouble since I’ve been going there. If it wasn’t for Margaret’s group I’d have been in and out of jail… I know I’d have been.’
Annie’s* testimonial, with its description of a complex and troubled life, and Margaret’s impact on it, is quoted in full:
‘There are far too many good things to say about Margaret, when I was at my lowest point she was there for me, she would phone constantly, she would bang my door on a Wednesday to get me to go to the hubs, she opened my letters because she knew I didn’t want to face the problems in them, she sorted my benefits out, took me to the food bank weekly, helped me out of a very abusive relationship, got me involved in crystal therapy and yoga, put me on mentoring courses, and so much more, without Margaret and the hubs I know I would be in jail and still in the same relationship, she supported me to stop smoking cannabis so I could get my license back which I now have, and she is still supporting me to becoming a support worker like herself, she has got my paintings into an exhibition, and I’m starting to rebuild my life, she has helped to rebuild my flat after it has been wrecked multiple times, there is so much more I could say, I’m her number one fan!!!! I have had many workers since the age of 12, she is the only one I have a relationship of trust with, she goes beyond her duty and cares so much about all her women and without judgement, I don’t know where she gets the patience to deal with so many troubled and challenging women and no one has a bad word to say about her a truly outstanding women, love her so much xxxxxx’
‘Jen’ meanwhile wrote that, since meeting Margaret ‘I have never looked back and admire her so much she goes the extra mile to look after the people in her care’, while ‘Clio’ said ‘She has turned my life around. She is never ever judgemental when dealing with our problems and as I’ve said before, if it wasn’t for her I might not have been here to sing her praises. As far as I’m concerned she is SIMPLY THE BEST.’ ‘Claire’ added that ‘Thanks to Margaret I can finally see a light at the end of my tunnel x’ while another woman wrote ‘I don’t know what to say except Margaret has such a calming non critical personality.’
One woman wrote that ‘if it wasn’t for Margaret tellin me straight I’d b in prison or dead. Wot else can I say Margaret McMullan u saved me u watched me fall but were there to give me an arm up. u have gone beyond the call of ur job by visiting me in hospital n just keeping it real…’
Health and Social Care Partnership Director Val de Souza concludes with an astute observation, which is again echoed in the women’s own testimonials:
‘Sometimes, in this very complicated world, it is the simple things that make the biggest difference to people, particularly when they are going through difficult times. Margaret personifies this sentiment.’
Meanwhile, there are clues to the character and quality of Margaret’s work in her own words, when she writes, ‘I love my job and love the people that I work with, and it is because of this that I feel privileged to work with so many wonderful people and individuals; the majority of whom I have seen change and develop into strong and resilient people with bright futures and aspirations.’
* Service user’s names have been anonymised.