Women’s Work have completely changed my life. The support is just amazing and the staff really do their job well, but professional, yet never patronise us
The Turn Around Project is targeted at women in the Criminal Justice System to address behaviour and prevent re-offending.
What is the need for the project across Derbyshire?
The Corston Report (2007) recommended that non-violent female offenders receive non-custodial sentences and community rehabilitation. The Probation Service has traditionally managed offenders sentenced to a community order or suspended sentence. Since 2014 women are required to complete a number of Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RAR) days to satisfy their community sentence, as an alternative to conventional probation.
The Female Offender Strategy (2018) recognises that offenders are part of society and aims to support women to get to the root causes of their offending. The evidence shows that many women who offend experience chaotic lifestyles involving substance misuse, mental health problems, homelessness, and offending behaviour – these are often the product of a life of abuse and trauma. Being a victim of domestic abuse is a predictor of violent reoffending among women. Almost 60% of female offenders supervised in the community or in custody have experienced domestic abuse. In addition, homelessness and substance misuse are key reasons why women don’t comply with their court orders and result in recall to prison.
What the Turn Around project involves
Women’s Work’s expertise in supporting women who are vulnerable, such as those who are victims of abuse or in coercive relationships, means that it is well placed to support a female-led approach towards rehabilitation.
We have the contract to deliver the RAR (Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Days) specifically for female offenders for the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) for Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland, and the National Probation Service (NPS). This is known as the Turn Around project. The CRC is responsible for rehabilitating less serious offenders and the NPS is responsible for more high-risk offenders.
Women receiving non-custodial sentences in the Magistrates Court in Chesterfield and Derby are referred to complete a given number of RAR days via the Turn Around programme as a condition of their sentence, which can be anything between 5 to 60 RAR days.
The Turn Around project consists of five programmes which address common issues affecting female offenders and aims to prevent reoffending and enable women to work towards living a healthier and more empowered life.
The five programmes are as follows:
- The Change Programme which helps build confidence and self-esteem, develop problem-solving skills, improve communication and assertiveness and raise aspirations (10 RAR days)
- Healthy relationships – recognising healthy and unhealthy relationships (5 RAR days)
- Healthy emotions – helping to understand emotions, understanding unhealthy behaviours, the effects of substance misuse and promoting better mental wellbeing (5 RAR days)
- Anger management – how to promote healthy coping mechanisms and avoid conflict (5 RAR days)
- The Enhanced Programme – to provide more intense support for women for example around addiction or securing accommodation (5 RAR days)
Once the women are referred from the CRC or NPS a member of staff at Women’s Work attends a three-way meeting with the assigned Offender Manager and the individual and discusses the requirements of their order and agrees on a personalised programme which meets that particular woman’s needs and helps her Turn (her life) Around.
Initially, many of the women who are required to attend the Turn Around programme are reluctant to work with another agency. Once they have met our caring and non-judgemental staff, however, they soon begin to realise that they have an opportunity to focus on themselves and the issues holding them back in life, and they begin to engage and complete the requirements of their order.
Our integrated/holistic approach
After completing the Turn Around project many of the women we work with voluntarily choose to progress on to other projects at Women’s Work, as their self confidence and aspirations for the future grows.
Often our support is the first time that the women attending have had the opportunity and dedicated support to address the issues which are holding them back in life and which led to their offending behaviour in the first place – for example, the trauma of childhood abuse.
Our work with Foston Prison
Developing a more gender-informed criminal justice system isn’t just about supporting women who are serving sentences within the community; it’s also about providing holistic support to those who have received custodial sentences when they are released from prison – known as ‘Through the gate’ support.
Having adequate childcare is an identified issue which can prevent women from complying with the requirements of their Probation Order on release. Addressing trauma and helping to increase skills to promote employability are also important factors in reducing reoffending amongst women who have been in prison.
Women’s Work has devised a pilot programme working with female prisoners in Foston Hall Prison called the Through the Gate. We work in partnership with the resettlement team based within Foston to link in with the woman before she is released from prison so that we are able to ensure the smooth transition and engagement from custody into programmed work within the community. We join the first meeting women have with the Probation Service, on the day they’re released, to discuss how we can support them to rebuild their lives. The odds are stacked against these women many of whom have ‘no fixed abode’ and have no choice but to stay in a hostel where they are surrounded by negative influences and easy availability of drugs. Our intervention, working with other agencies and charities, aims to help them secure safe accommodation and immediate access to support to help them resist participating in unhealthy and illegal activities in order to survive, which could result in them returning to prison.
We also run The Freedom programme in collaboration with Foston Prison. Staff from Women’s Work facilitate an intensive 12-week domestic violence awareness course which focuses on warning signs and common tactics perpetrators use to gain power and control over an individual. The programme empowers women with the knowledge to understand the early warning signs and enable them to make conscious choices early on within relationships. It is also a tool which aids their recovery as they are sharing their journey in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
Our work at Foston Prison has been put on hold until the Covid 19 restrictions are lifted but we are looking forward to resuming this important work as soon as we can.
247 women engaged with The Turn Around Programme during 2019/20.
The feedback from the women who complete our Turn Around programme is invariably positive. The majority of women who access the Turn Around programme progress onto other programmes at Women’s Work, for example, our Counselling and Parenting programmes, illustrating their commitment to improving their life skills and moving towards a more empowered and healthy way of life.
This programme is proudly supported by
What our empowered women have to say...
After doing the Anger Management programme, I am now able to walk away from situations rather than hurt someone
Member – Anger Management
After Healthy Emotions, I am able to look at things more positively and feel I will make better choices in the future.
The Change Programme has given me an understanding of life, relationships, the world, myself and empowerment. I felt heard and not judged, and also felt a deep self-realisation and knowledge of self
Member – Change Programme
After doing Healthy relationships, I have better knowledge about abusive relationships and can now recognise the red warning flags in the early stages. I have learnt to love myself, and will not allow anyone to control or abuse me anymore
Member – Healthy Relationships
I find Women’s Work a safe place to go when I need somewhere to listen to me without judgement.