Trevi partner in pioneering Women’s Centre pilot for women in prison

Trevi is pleased to be one of the organisations partnering with The Nelson Trust in delivering 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’ to improve 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 the 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.

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. These organisations include HMP Eastwood Park, PACT, POBL, The Wallich, CGL, Safer Wales and the Peninsula Women’s Alliance (TWCC, Trevi and Colab). 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.

‘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.’

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.

Niki Gould – Head of Women’s Services, The Nelson Trust, ‘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.

The Female Offender Strategy committed to sending fewer women to prison, but 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 vicious 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.’

The Nelson Trust currently run 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.

Laura Fraser-Crewes, Trevi  Strategic Lead said, ‘We are delighted to be part of this exciting partnership project which will deliver transformative support and intervention between prison and community services to reduce reoffending and make long-lasting change.

We have specifically employed a Women’s Safety Practitioner who will be meeting women at the point of release from HMP Eastwood Park and supporting their resettlement in the community – in both Plymouth and Torbay. This support can include access to housing, benefits support, reunion with children and family, and support with addiction and domestic abuse. It is vitally important that we build a relationship with the women needing our support in making changes in their lives and divert them from the criminal justice system’.

In addition to the One Women’s Centre project’s core vision for women leaving prison, Trevi will also be able to link women with other services they provide. This includes their Spark Project Assertive Outreach Program, which supports women facing multiple disadvantage to help keep them safe from violence and abuse; including street outreach in various locations and a 24/7 free text service where women can get a call back from a practitioner out of hours, and follow up support the next working day.

They will also have access to Trevi’s Sunflower Women Centre and all the vital support services it offers.

t: 01752 255 758

t: 01752 255 758