The Nelson Trust is leading in the design and development of an innovative new pilot, to establish a Women’s Centre in HMP Eastwood Park. The pilot is funded by the Ministry of Justice ‘Local Leadership and Integration Fund’ aimed at improving outcomes for prison leavers.
It is widely acknowledged that women are often swept up into the criminal justice system as a consequence of disadvantage including poverty, homelessness and substance misuse. The majority of women in prison have histories of trauma, abuse, and victimisation, with at least 60% of women being the victims of domestic abuse. Half of women in prison are mothers; leaving children the hidden victims of separation, family breakup and loss of the family home. This can have a devastating long-term impact on children leading to intergenerational cycles of trauma, abuse and offending.
The Nelson Trust will establish the ‘ONE Women’s Centre’ in HMP Eastwood Park supporting women returning to South West England and Wales. With no women’s prisons in Wales, Welsh women are imprisoned in England, over 100 miles away from their homes making family visits and effective resettlement almost impossible.
A woman at Eastwood Park Women’s Prison said:
‘I had just left an abusive relationship and had no money to feed my children, so I started shoplifting. I was caught and sent to prison. I was
devastated to lose my home and my children; they were put into care.
Once I served my sentence, I left prison with nowhere to go. I don’t know where I would be without the support of The Nelson Trust. Having a Women’s Centre in prison will be amazing so women can get the help they need to rebuild their lives.’
The Women’s Centre will ensure that women are at the centre of joined up services addressing underlying needs which will improve the lives of women and their families. The women’s specialist support is delivered through a trauma-informed approach, bringing together a unique partnership of women’s specialist services and local third sector organisations including HMP Eastwood Park, PACT, POBL, The Wallich, CGL, Safer Wales and Peninsula Women’s Alliance. Women who have been to prison have been involved in the design of the pilot and will oversee its implementation and delivery working alongside delivery partners.
“We know that our Women’s Centres in the community are fundamental in improving women’s lives and diverting women away from the Criminal Justice System. (Niki Gould – Head of Women’s Services)
The Female Offender Strategy committed to sending less women to prison but still too many women are being sent to prison to serve short sentences for non violent offences. This completely destroys the lives of women and their families, leading to further devastation, disconnection and a viscous cycle of reoffending and trauma.
We aren’t keeping enough women out of prison so we will take the Women’s Centre approach into prison! The only way to reduce women’s offending is to get to the bottom of why they have offended in the first place. We are committed to leading a different approach, to really meet the needs of women in prison, a women’s centred approach which truly puts women at the centre
“Working in true partnership to achieve better outcomes for women in prison is our priority for HMP Eastwood Park. I am thrilled that we are able to be the first prison in the country to provide this access to vital Women’s Centre support whilst in custody and am committed to the successful integration of the One Women’s Centre into the holistic services we are seeking to provide for our vulnerable population.” Zoe Short – Governor, HMP Eastwood Park
Vicky Davis the One Women’s Centre Project Manager said “We are delighted that this exciting partnership project will deliver transformative support services and interventions, enabling continuity of support between prison and community services to reduce reoffending, and make long lasting change.”
The Nelson Trust currently runs four Women’s Centres across the South West and outreach services across Wales. This ground-breaking pilot will establish a women’s centre within the prison setting, to recognise and respond to the complex needs and previous trauma that women in prison face. The project will provide joined-up, holistic support and interventions for women at the earliest opportunity across areas including housing, domestic abuse, substance misuse, health and wellbeing and family support.
The Women’s Centre aims to reach at least 400 women during the 12-month pilot providing the support needed for effective resettlement and a seamless transition from prison back into the community giving women a foundation to rebuild their lives.
For more information contact:
email@example.com 07867 451904
One Women’s Centre Project Manager
Available for comment:
In England firstname.lastname@example.org 07867 451904 One Women’s Centre Project Manager
In Wales Natalie.email@example.com 07719 084435 Regional Manager, The Nelson Trust Criminal Justice, Wales.
Statistic taken from Female Offending Strategy (2018) www.gov.uk/government/publications/female-offender-strategy and Lord Farmer Review (2019) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/642244/farmer-review-report.pdf