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I was an addict, a prisoner, a sex worker. I thought the world had written me off – but I saved myself

Mandy Ogunmokun stands in the back garden office of a quiet suburban east London house, softly pointing out members of staff who work there with her. It is a brisk, sunny November morning. “There’s Vivianne,” she says, as a woman with long brown hair crunches along the gravel outside. “She’s nine years in recovery and works full-time to manage the houses. She first went to Holloway prison when she was 15.”

Many of those she points out first arrived here, at the Treasures Foundation, looking for help. Ogunmokun created the foundation nearly a decade ago to offer housing and support to women who had passed through HMP Holloway and had experienced addiction issues. When the women-only prison shut down in 2016, she opened up the service to anyone in the country. Residents must agree to remain abstinent and attend daily meetings, as well as receive trauma therapy, nutritional guidance and holistic therapy. The women can stay in the houses for as long as they need, and the foundation has recently acquired four one-bedroom flats for them to move on to until they find a more permanent home. It is also looking to buy more flats and a caravan where the women’s children can stay.

Read the profile in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 31/01/24]

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