13th April 2022

Pact, together with voluntary sector partners and the Ministry of Justice’s Local Leadership and Integration Fund (LLIF), is launching a new project supporting women leaving HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire. 

Led by Gloucestershire-based charity The Nelson Trust, the One Women’s Centre will offer comprehensive support to women in custody and through the gate, encouraging effective rehabilitation and reintegration into the community following release. The centre, which plans to reach at least 400 women during its 12-month pilot, is the first of its kind in England & Wales and will adopt a ‘one team’ approach to supporting female prison leavers, joining up statutory and voluntary sector services.

As acknowledged by Lord Farmer’s 2019 review of the women’s estate, female prisoners face very different challenges to their male counterparts and often become involved with the criminal justice system as a result of poverty, homelessness and substance misuse. The majority of women in prison have histories of trauma, abuse and victimisation, with many serving sentences for crimes less severe than those committed against them. Around half of women prisoners are mothers, which can have a devastating long-term effect on the health and wellbeing of their children, leading to intergenerational cycles of trauma, abuse and offending.

HMP Eastwood Park houses women from South West England and Wales (there is currently no women’s prisons in Wales, and so Welsh women are imprisoned in England, more than 100 miles away from their homes and families). The One Women’s Centre will support these women by providing a base for family engagement workers, group work facilitators, and coordinators for Pact’s Visiting Mum project, as well as specific provision for improving gateway communications, encouraging more effective ways of enabling family members to share concerns about their loved one’s health and wellbeing while they are in custody.

The centre will also act as a base for Pact’s Together a Chance initiative for Wales and the South West. Funded by the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust, and in line with Lord Farmer’s recommendations to pilot social workers within the women’s estate, this will support women in being actively involved in decisions relating to the care of their child, provide advocacy with local authority social workers, and promote a better understanding of the criminal justice system within the local authority.

The project will see Pact working with HMPPS and voluntary sector partners including Pobl, Change Grow LiveSafer Wales, The Peninsula Women’s Alliance, and The Wallich to deliver a range of services from housing support and advice to interventions focused on empowering women to lead positive, healthy lives following trauma and addiction.

Pact CEO Andy Keen-Downs said:

We are hugely excited to be working with partners to launch the Pact One Women’s Centre. The initiative is a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the benefits of a collaborative and holistic approach in ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of women in custody and on release. We hope that the project will pave the way for further innovation across the women’s estate over the coming months and years.

Read The Nelson Trust's press release here: ONE Women's Centre - Nelson Trust

Read more about the Ministry of Justice's projects to tackle reoffending: Innovative new projects to tackle reoffending and protect the public revealed - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

For more information contact [email protected].

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