AN ex jail bird has finally found her feet and turned her life around thanks to a local charity and business.
Natasha Watkins fell through the doors of Platform 51, the women’s organisation in Cleveland Street, Doncaster, drunk and just out of prison four years ago.
She has been arrested 64 times and served 20 custodial sentences and now is regarded as a great success after she was introduced to Belgray Properties and given a job.
Nicky Birkinshaw, finance and resources manager at Platform 51, has worked with Natasha on a number of occasions as she used to be a fundraising volunteer.
She said: “She came to us four years ago originally as a customer and then volunteered for us for around two years.
“She still comes in to help us and pops in most days on her way to and from work.”
Nicky thinks that it is great she has moved on and it is all hard work from her. “She has taken on every opportunity and is a huge achievement. She is an inspiration.”
Natasha has nothing but thanks for Platform 51 as they gave her ongoing support in every aspect of her life and she would never have met Belinda Grashion, who gave her the job at Belgray, if it was not for them.
She said: “I was struggling to get employment. They see me as a criminal but I have never hurt anyone, just the shops. I regret it, but I can’t take it back.”
Natasha now loves her job as a PA for Belgray Properties in Balby and wishes that every employer was like her boss Belinda, who has never judged or treated her any differently despite her past.
Belinda met Natasha after being impressed with the great work Platform 51 does with women. Natasha knew Belinda was visiting and made it her mission to meet her.
Belinda said: “I was very impressed by her attitude and determination and her past and history moved me.
“She is willing to work and give everything she has. Nothing is going to stop her from achieving.
“The passion and the drive that Natasha has to improve her and her children’s life is very motivating.”
Belinda added: “You cannot teach someone the desire to succeed.
Natasha believes her dreams are now within her reach .
She wants to learn to drive and own her own house next, which Belinda has every confidence in her achieving within 18 months.
Belgray Properties have been very influential on Natasha and, despite her only being paid for working part-time, she still comes in on her days off in order to learn more.
Belinda said: “It’s marvellous how she has come on and very inspiring to others.”
Natasha said has loved working with Belinda over the last six weeks and no longer feels like she has to explain herself and her past to anyone anymore.
Platform 51 works with young women, educating and empowering them, as well as offering support to those who need it, activities and counselling.
Women of all ages are welcome at the centre. Platform 51 also campaigns locally and nationally on a vareity of issues affecting women’s lives.