Mandy Ogunmokun was born into a dysfunctional family with a mother who had numerous issues with substance abuse, depression, self-harm and prostitution. Her grandmother was also a prostitute and procuress and sold members of her family for sexual exploit. Mandy suffered childhood abuse and was initially sold for sex at the age of four.
Years of mistreatment led Mandy to start misusing drugs at the age of eleven. Drug use became problematic at the age of twenty and continued for a twenty-year period in which heroin became Mandy’s best friend. Mandy’s drug addiction led to a chaotic life of crime, numerous prison sentences and abandoning her own children. Mandy started to turn her life around when she engaged with others who understood her addiction and cared and supported her throughout the seemingly impossible process of recovery. Once Mandy found recovery she wanted to let others know that there is hope, and that we can all change and come back to life. Mandy subsequently embarked on a life mission to understand, support and guide hurting women.
Having worked to become clean from her own additions Mandy joined the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust in September of 2005 as an apprentice CARAT worker in HMP Holloway. This was Mandy’s first paid job at the age of 45. Mandy rapidly acquired the skills necessary to become a CARAT worker through assessing clients, conducting one to one sessions offering support in all areas of social issues as well as substance abuse, delivering accredited group work sessions including overdose prevention, relapse prevention and motivation to change.
Mandy became a senior worker within 3-year period in which she organised her own team of staff. Mandy’s team at the time described her as: “a calming, motivating influence in a chaotic environment”. Mandy stated she has used her own journey of drug addiction and prison to inspire and motivate others, so they can see that change is possible. Mandy became an ambassador for both the Rapt Carat Team in and the Phoenix Futures Interventions. Nicky Wilsenham, the Building Futures Service Manager, said of Mandy, ‘She has dedicated her life to supporting others and acted as an inspirational figure for those who have little or no hope.’
Mandy’s work in the addiction field was recognized when she was awarded the honor of to carrying the Olympic Touch to the Guildhall Hall on the 27th July 2012. Additionally Mandy earned a Commendation for the Butlers Trust for her dedication and skill in addressing the needs of women prisoners with substance misuse problems, going: “above and beyond her role’ to provide guidance and help for the women at HMP Holloway in 2013.
Mandy’s dedications in supporting others led to her establish the Treasures Foundation in 2011 to aid women with substance misuse issues and housing needs. Three years later Mandy’s tenacity and vision has created three connecting houses located in East London that are staffed day and night to provide continuous individual support to up to nine women. Mandy continues to connect with women’s prisons and help women find the treasures in themselves.
Her story is also featured in the Daily Mail here.