AN AMPHETAMINE addiction which landed Donna Hogg in jail for four months on remand proved to be a catalyst for change.

During that period, the 33-year-old managed to quit drugs and drink. She now believes that getting caught “was a blessing in disguise” and is embracing a new life free from substance misuse.

Donna, from Radcliffe, gained nearly three stone while at HMP Styal, and also studied for qualifications. Last June, she was sentenced at Bolton Crown Court for money laundering. She received a 12-month suspended sentence order, which is supervised by Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company’s Bury probation officer, Vicky Noble.

After being released from jail to start her community sentence, Donna was required to attend the Bury Probation Women’s Project, a woman only centre run in conjunction with The Attic Project, at the Bury Spiritual Centre, Russell Street.

She said: “When I was at my lowest ebb I was a recluse. I’d totally lost my confidence. Prison made me feel normal. I quit drugs, I went to the gym every morning at 8am.

“After being released and told to attend this centre, I was nervous, but everyone is here for the same reason. No-one judges. I wasn’t used to seeing people, so coming here has helped give me my confidence back.”

Donna is tested for drugs on a weekly basis, and she has provided negative results on each occasion. Four weeks ago she gave birth to Darcy, her baby daughter. She added: "The centre has definitely helped me stop from re-offending and the staff are fantastic. Being able to talk with other participants and gaining strength from each other is a wonderful medicine.

“I feel proud that I can now give support to other women at the centre. I never thought I’d be in that position.”

Donna, who had never previously been in trouble with the law, is one of up to 25 women who attend the Bury Probation Women’s Project on a weekly basis. The Attic also runs a separate weekly session open to any woman in the borough.

Vicky Noble said: “I am delighted by the progress Donna has made. She is now offering positive support to other women in the group and sharing the value of her experiences."

The centre is for women offenders who are serving community sentences and custodial licences, as well as others who are referred to the service.