New year, new me
2010 is a year Sue would rather forget after being sent to prison and losing everything.
But she's looking forward to a fresh start in 2011 thanks to help from a new women's project
Last Christmas Sue had only just discovered her husband was having an affair.
He had moved in with his new girlfriend and was slowly stripping belongings from the east Hull home which he and Sue had shared for more than a decade.
In the New Year Sue was arrested for arson after having set fire to her bed in what she describes as an act of desperation.
"It was a cry for help. I didn't want to hurt anyone but people do stupid things when they're going through a divorce," says Sue (52), a mother of two grown-up children.
"I'd been drinking as well and I was suffering from depression. Not only that, but my mum was really ill."
Luckily no-one was hurt in the fire, and the house was not badly damaged, but Sue was sent to prison for four months.
Upon her release, things were worse than ever, not least because the house had been repossessed and she was having to sleep on a friend's settee.
Two months later she wanted to take her own life.
"When you're in prison your problems don't go away," says Sue.
"And when I was released they all seemed to hit me at once - my divorce, my mum, no money, no job and nowhere to live."
In need of a friendly face
Development worker Sarah Mackay
But help was at hand from Hull Women's Community Project (HWCP), a new programme which supports women who've just been released from prison.
Through one-to-one sessions with a dedicated key worker Sue was given emotional support as well as practical help to write letters to find somewhere to live and a job.
She also received help with her alcohol misuse and joined group sessions in confidence building.
Arts and crafts sessions too were therapeutic for Sue, as was being around other women with similar problems.
"She'd been a mother figure to some of the other inmates while she was in prison and she'd also had a job in the gym," says Sue's key worker Jo.
"When she came out she needed structure and routine in her life as well as friendly faces around her.
"Through our sessions, she was also able to open up about the abuse she'd suffered from her ex-partner which was something she'd become used to and hadn't recognised as abusive behaviour."
But 2010 has brought some good news for Sue after all, because her daughter gave birth to a baby girl, and Sue is now looking forward to spending Christmas Day with her first grandchild.
She has also found a new home through Hull City Council's HomeSearch service.
And not only that, but she has a part-time job as a cleaner.
"I'm actually losing money in benefits by taking the job," says Sue.
"But I don't want to be sat at home all day, and when you're in a job you can always find another job!"
The sad news is that this will be Sue's first Christmas without her mum, who passed away in September.
"I'm just so relieved that I'd been released from prison before she died," she says.
"It's her birthday on Christmas Eve so I'll have to be there for my dad. It's going to be hard for him because they were together 63 years.
"I sometimes look at my life and ask how did I ever get into this mess at my age. I don't think I would have coped without the centre."
Tough time at Christmas
Around 70 per cent of women in prison suffer from mental health problems while in prison and around 30 per cent lose their homes while they're incarcerated.
In 2008/9 just 13 per cent of women re-entered work upon their release from prison.
"If left unresolved these issues can lead to reoffending," says Sarah Mackay, HWCP development officer.
"And especially at Christmas, things can become very difficult for ex-offenders, especially those with problems such as substance misuse, debt and homelessness.
"It's often an uphill struggle, but we aim to meet all of a woman's needs in one place and tackle the issues which triggered the offending in the first place."
The HCWP, which has it's headquarters on George Street in the city centre, currently helps around 45 women ex-offenders in Hull, and is ready to expand.
It is a government-funded scheme run by the Together Women Project in partnership with Hull Women's Centre and Preston Road Women's Centre.
HWCP works in partnership with local organisations including Hull City Council, Humberside Probation Trust and Humberside Police.
For more information visit www.twpyandh.org.uk or call the centre on 01482 218 125.