When freedom finally came, it wasn’t an easy welcome. But a friendly face came to make the transition a little easier.


One day in prison, my solicitor told me to pack up and leave earlier than my court date. I was surprised, so I didn’t have time to think about whether I’ll be free. When you’re inside you’re completely excluded from the outside world. You lose touch with some part of yourself and part of the world too. It’s not easy to reconnect.

When I realised I was going to be out, I was happy. I immediately thought of my children. I had promised them I would return, and now I was. I could see the light and was relieved.

I knew I was nearing freedom. I knew I was innocent and would be free of it. As I walked towards the door, I thought this is happening. It was difficult to keep up from one transition to another.

I didn’t know what I was going to do after I left as I didn’t have any money and I couldn’t go to the place where I lived, or to my family. I said goodbye to those who I needed to and left prison. I was then on the tag when I left. I had mixed feelings as I walked out, happy and anxious as you create another life when you’re inside prison and then you’re back out in the world again.

Although I had difficult moments, there were some lessons that I learnt.  I was also angry about being ripped away from my children.  Even when I was reunited with them there were a lot of restrictions placed on us by social services. There was a lot of pressure, and I wanted to see my children in a normal, natural setting but Alhamdulillah, it was better than being inside.

I didn’t have a passport when I left prison, so it was very hard to find work without an ID. I worked for a while but then stopped as I just couldn’t work. I felt like I had to start all over again, and felt vulnerable when leaving prison.

I was vulnerable, financially, emotionally, and physically. I was worried about how I was going to support myself or my children. It took a long time for me to rebuild my life and my relationship with my children, and it still has an impact on us today. When I got them back, I struggled to come to terms with how traumatic it was.  I couldn’t believe what I had been through and that I had them taken away from me, and they coped with it. It felt like there was a pause in my motherhood.

I found it hard to reconnect to being a mother. When I was in prison that part of me was silenced. But now I had them back, I had to bring that side out. It was hard to adjust.

The relationship is not the same compared to how it was before prison. There’s trauma there, and there’s a negative impact on the mother-and-child relationship. Their whole routine changed, and there were a lot of things they used to do before that we couldn’t do anymore. Although my relationship with my children is loving, I can notice the change since they’ve been away from me for a year and a half.

The light in a time of darkness


HHUGS reached out to my family when I was arrested. That’s how we came to know about them. They were the light during a dark time. They asked my family what kind of support we needed both emotionally and physically. They were empathetic and supportive. It was very beautiful. They were a positive part of our life then.

I reached out to them a few months after my release from prison. I couldn’t pay rent and was scared about everything around me. Every step I took, I needed to think about it a million times, so I thought I needed to speak to someone about this. I told HHUGS that I needed their support and asked if they could help. Alhamdulillah, with big hearts, they accepted and supported me with my rent.

That is the start of my family with HHUGS. They are a pillar that holds my life together. They’ve been a light all these years, and a real blessing. Without the support they’ve given me, I wouldn’t have made it. In prison, they helped me with the visits from my children and were there reassuring me and checking up on me. They also helped me with Winter support and vouchers.

When I was released, I felt stagnant. I couldn’t see a future and it was difficult to see past the stress and trauma I experienced. But because of their support, I could work in a full-time job in a safe environment.

They played a huge role in helping me be in the position I am in today. Alhamdulillah, they provided furniture for my children and essentials like bedding. They also helped me get back into education and provided me with a laptop to study, which has helped me get back on my feet and provide a future for my family.

It’s more than just the physical support. It’s the presence of having someone when no one else is there. I had a key worker when I left prison and she was very empathetic and reassuring. It was helpful to have her. She would listen to me without any judgment, and remind me that there is goodness out there when I was having a difficult time. I’m thankful for those who play a role in HHUGS and volunteer.  They also offered me counselling sessions which helped alleviate some of the distress I went through. I’m grateful for it.

The Eid parties and the coffee mornings were helpful for my family as they didn’t feel alone. They felt like other people in similar situations weren’t forgotten and were looked after. When we’re going through difficult situations, we tend to isolate and become fearful of our surroundings. It’s difficult for us to trust people but HHUGS were there.

The coffee mornings are important, because we’ve all gone through the same pain but despite the struggle, we’re still smiling the families are still smiling. The community needs to have that, especially the children.

All of us, including the children, look forward to the Eid gifts from HHUGS. They wait for the parcel to come. It’s something they’ve had every single year. It’s the thought that someone is looking out for them even though they haven’t met them. It’s priceless, to see the smile on their face.

For those who are going through similar situations, I’d say reach out to HHUGS. They open doors and have open hearts.  Don’t hesitate to contact them, as I wouldn’t have been able to cope with all that has gone on, and is still going on, as it’s long-lasting. I reached out to them when I feeling very vulnerable, and people should know that they don’t have to be alone. There are people out there who will help.

Even now we crumble a lot, often especially when we remember what we’ve been through. There are days where we dare to carry on but other days, where we find it hard to carry on.

There were times when I didn’t think things could change. But Alhamdulillah HHUGS were there. I’d say by getting support we make a living, but by giving, we make lives. And this is the phrase that I could see in my own life. HHUGS gives to others, and they make lives.

Whoever supports HHUGS isn’t only giving financial support, but they are wiping away tears. They are building homes and building the future generation, especially those who have been through difficult times. Alhamdulillah, I want to thank those who donate to HHUGS on behalf of myself, my children, and my family. They are a part of our du’as. I want them to know that we know about them and are grateful for their presence. Alhamdulillah, it’s beautiful.

Read more of Houda’s story….

Houda’s Story

Meet Houda. A dawn raid changed her and her family’s lives forever. Their traumatic experience has scarred three generations. She made a promise to her four-year-old daughter that she was forced to break. The pain and guilt lives on within her, to this day. Quick Donate Single Donation Monthly regular Donation £ Zakat Interest Sadaqa [...]

Houda’s Story Part Two

‘It's still a deep scar that's left on my mum's soul.’ Houda’s family were torn apart. Their lives shattered, they were left to deal alone, with the aftermath of her arrest. Quick Donate Single Donation Monthly regular Donation £ Zakat Interest Sadaqa Donate A Deep Scar on Her Soul My mother was so brave through [...]