Carol Martin knows more than most people about the power of second chances; for the past three years, she has helped men in prison to break the cycle they are in and start over.
“I’ve helped men who have lost everything. They’ve lost their families, friends, jobs and homes,” says the Australian Red Cross case manager.
“They want to break the cycle, but don’t know a way out. It’s my job to show them how.”
One of the men Carol has supported is Chris, a young father from Sydney who was mixed up with drugs and the wrong kind of mates and ended up in jail.
Chris knew he wanted a better life for his family, but didn’t know how and he asked Carol for help.
It’s no easy thing to ask for help. It takes courage and strength, says Carol, who has been at Chris’s side for the past three years.
In Australia, research has found 54 per cent of people in prison expect to be homeless upon release and that 46 per cent will return to custody within two years of their release.
It is statistics like this the Red Cross Post Release Mentor Program is working to turn around.
“Leaving prison feels a bit like drifting in an ocean far from shore,” Carol says. “To me, Red Cross is the boat that comes by and pulls you up.
“We tell you: ‘Come on, mate, how about doing this instead?’ We’re there with a shoulder to lean on and a mentor to help you create the life you would rather have.”
Thanks to Carol’s support, Chris was out of prison in time for the birth of his youngest child – something that meant everything to him – and today his life is so different.
He’s home with his three children and Steph, his partner of nine years.
He has qualifications, a driver’s licence and is working. Chris says he wouldn’t be where he is today without Carol’s support.
Red Cross has more than 100 years of experience supporting people through crisis. Every day across the country, Red Cross people like Carol are helping families through the hardest days of their lives.
But they can’t do it alone; the work they do relies on the ongoing generosity of Australians from all walks of life.
Make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the financial year, June 30, and you can support life-changing programs like this that give a second chance to people like Chris. Every donation makes an impact.
Learn more about how Red Cross helps people in times of disaster, crisis and hardship, in Australia and across the region.