News from Women’s Breakout Members

Pecan are very pleased to announce that its Moving On programme has been awarded the Approved Provider Standard (APS) by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation for its work with young female ex-offenders leaving prison and returning to London. The APS report found that “the project is well managed, effective, and demonstrates high client satisfaction, very much in line with Pecan’s mission ‘to enable individuals to achieve their full potential’”. Five clients came along to the Pecan office in Peckham to be interviewed about their experience of the programme, and said ‘If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be in a good place’, and ‘they change people’s lives…they are like heroes to me’. 

The programme has been running since July 2012, and is now at the end of it’s funding with The Big Lottery. Pecan has secured a grant with the Henry Smith Trust to continue the work in a reduced capacity for the time being, however they are searching for new funding to further sustain the work. The new Project Manager, Katie Kelly, says
“this is an exciting time for us. We have the opportunity to continue and develop our work with this courageous group of women, and I look forward to making contact with other agencies as we move forward”.

The service has moved from mentoring and is now focused on delivering a Resettlement Coaching programme. The programme offers up to 12 one-to-one coaching sessions, which are gender-specific, trauma informed and client led. These are provided to young female ex-offenders (aged between 18-25) resettling in London. The programme is currently operating in HMP Holloway, and works with women both in prison and in the community. For more details, please email Katie Kelly.

Clean Break have produced a new play:

written by Katherine Chandler, directed by Imogen Ashby

A short play and workshop about women, austerity and debt performed by women affected by the criminal justice system

You haven’t got any money. Credit comes knocking at your door, offering itself to you on a plate. Before you know it you are spending and overspending. But payday never comes and the next knock on the door has a devastating impact. Spent follows the story of a woman struggling to make ends meet and living in a world of easy credit and dangerous debt.

Available to book at conferences, seminars or staff training. suitable for criminal justice agencies, women’s organisations, policymakers, funders, probation and other frontline organisations working with vulnerable women.

“the performance was excellent and very powerful…you could have heard a pin drop in the room. We’ve had positive feedback from colleagues, thank you for your invaluable contribution at the conference”.
-Participant at criminal justice conference featuring Clean Break

For further info, booking and fees, please contact Kirstin Shirling

Exhibition to highlight how art can heal the damage to mental wellbeing after prison
Former prison governor, Lady Martha Bruce, is to open an art exhibition highlighting the journey of one woman who used art as a tool to heal the damage to her mental wellbeing and rebuild her life after prison. The exhibition, entitled Breakthrough and hosted by Together for Mental Wellbeing, will feature over 100 pieces of artwork created by Eve McDougall, an artist, poet, public speaker, author and tutor.

Compiled over the course of 30 years, the artwork tracks Eve’s journey which started when she was sent to an adult Victorian prison for breaking a baker’s window to steal some bread for her and her hungry siblings, when she was just 15 years old. The exhibition explores Eve’s struggles upon leaving prison and how she has since rebuilt her life, including by teaching creative writing, poetry and art to other women who have experienced incarceration.

The exhibition will run from Friday 27 November until Tuesday 26 January and is open Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 5pm at the offices of Together for Mental Wellbeing, 12 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BE. Admission is free. Nearest tube is Barbican. Read more here.

Brighton Oasis Project (Oasis) are working with the University of Brighton on a project funded by the Community University Partnership Programme to research the experiences of women who have had their children removed permanently. This project will focus upon female substance users whose children have been subject to permanent removal. Accordingly, Oasis will seek to explore what happens to women after their children have been subject to permanent removal. In exploring the lived experiences of this group of women it is anticipated that the services Oasis provide can be further shaped to meet those mother’s needs for, as Broadhurst and Mason contend, much more needs to be known about the needs of this “hidden population” to effect more meaningful practices and policy responses.

Brighton Oasis has been supporting women who have a drink or drug problem since 1993. They do this by helping women and their families address problems that are impacting on their lives. Oasis provides a number of specific programmes including the POCAR (Parenting our Children, Addressing Risk) programme. This is a structured treatment intervention for women whose children have social services involvement as a result of their parents’ drug/alcohol use. The programme includes parenting and relationship interventions as well as 1-1 support and group activities designed to address substance misuse. Alongside services for women is the Young Oasis Centre for children and young people affected by problematic drug or alcohol use in their family.

Oasis hope that the project will achieve the following aims:

  • To achieve a better understanding of the needs of women with substance misuse issues who have had their children removed from them permanently.
  • To produce an evidence-base that will inform the development of tailored client-focused, resource-efficient practice within health and social care services.
  • To enable marginalised women’s voices to be heard within the research, policy development and evaluation processes.
  • To nurture the emerging reciprocal arrangement between the partners (Oasis and SASS) that will engender future collaborative projects in research, publications and teaching.
  • To further the School of Applied Social Science’s and the University of Brighton’s commitment to genuinely applied research.
The Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire (Ingrid Roscoe) came to the Leeds branch of Together Women. This is a service user’s (Corin Leeds) report of the visit:

When she visited I found Ingrid to be very warm and friendly to the group of women who she met with. Some women had come in specifically to meet Ingrid whereas other women were in the Centre accessing services and stayed for lunch with Ingrid. Ingrid asked me what groups I have been involved with since attending Together Women. I told her about my many positive experiences of the services that Together Women provide including the ‘Louder than Word’ photography project, which used photography as a means of expressing feelings of anxiety and depression. I also told her about the ‘Positive Self Confidence Building’ group that I enjoyed as we had our pictures professionally produced as part of the ‘Love Art Leeds’ exhibition. I told Ingrid that the support from Together Women had really helped me to increase my confidence and self-esteem, something that my mum had noticed and commented on in a very proud way.

Ingrid made me feel very special as previously, I has been asked to provide a reflection on my experience of Together Women for the newsletter. I was very surprised when Ingrid produced this from her pocket. Ingrid told me that it was very well written and that I should progress this within Together Women. I have subsequently become a volunteer at Together Women Leeds. I really enjoyed Ingrid’s company and although she is a very important lady she was very chatty, down to earth with a genuine interest in the issues that we women experience.

Congratulations to Working Chance who in November were invited to the House of Lords to celebrate its milestone 500th placement into paid employment.
Eden House honoured Domestic Violence Awareness week (23-27 November) by hosting/participating in two events:

• Domestic abuse survivor, author and women’s rights campaigner Gabriella Gillespie visited Eden House on Tuesday 24 November to meet with their female clients, staff and visitors from partner organisations to share her story. After sharing her experiences and talking with women who have also experienced domestic abuse, violence and trauma, Gabriella, staff and clients all enjoyed lunch together.

• Eden House Staff and Gabriella Gillespie joined Next Link Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Services in their annual Candlelit March from their office in Queen Square, Bristol, to College Green, on Wednesday 25 November – UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. At College Green two large candles were lit to symbolise the two women who are killed every week in the UK as a result of Domestic Abuse and everyone assembled took part in a minutes silence. It was great to see representatives from a number of organisations in the city who deliver services and support to female victims of violence and abuse, coming together in solidarity to honour these women and raise awareness.

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