Project launched to support Welsh women leaving prison

05 May 2022

Introducing the new ONE Women’s Centre: The Wallich is working with The Nelson Trust and other partners to establish a new approach to supporting women with convictions in Wales.

The Nelson Trust, an addiction and recovery charity, is leading in the design and development of an innovative new pilot, to establish a women’s centre to support women leaving HMP Eastwood Park returning to Wales and the South West.

The Wallich will play a key role in the project, working with HMPPS and other voluntary sector partners including PoblChange Grow LiveSafer Wales and The Peninsula Women’s Alliance.

The pilot is funded by the Ministry of Justice Local Leadership and Integration Fund.

ONE Women’s Centre

The Centre, which plans to reach at least 400 women during its 12-month pilot, is the first of its kind in England and Wales and will adopt a ‘one team’ approach to supporting female prison leavers, joining up statutory and voluntary sector services.

The ONE Women’s Centre will support women by providing a base for 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.

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 Wallich’s role will be to deliver a range of interventions focused on increasing pathways for women to access employment, training and education; empowering women to lead positive, healthy lives following trauma and addiction.

The team will include dedicated Peer Mentors who will support individuals through the process of rehabilitation and guide them towards a more positive life, by using their personal experience of the criminal justice system.

Women and the criminal justice system

HMP Eastwood Park houses women from South-West England and Wales.

There are currently no women’s prisons in Wales.

As a result, Welsh women are imprisoned in England, more than 100 miles away from their homes and families.

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.

The Wallich’s experience with the criminal justice system

The Wallich’s Building Opportunities, Skills and Success (BOSS) project is a South Wales wide employability and wellbeing programme for people with offending backgrounds.

The Wallich is committed to breaking down the barriers to employment that a criminal record presents by working alongside employers to access a pool of motivated and diverse talent.

Since 2018, The Wallich’s BOSS project has worked with more than 100 females with experience of the criminal justice system.

David Bennett, Head of Service Innovation and Enhancement at The Wallich, said:

“The ONE Women’s Centre presents a huge opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of women leaving custody.

We’ll also be able to collect better evidence of the need for a holistic, whole system approach to criminal justice, which will help break the revolving door nature of reoffending.

For The Wallich, this is a great chance to build on our previous success supporting women in the criminal justice system.

We’re excited to deliver more effective ways of working, in collaboration with partner organsations who share our beliefs and values, and to pool our collective strengths.”

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