Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) with the backing of the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell, has launched the Merseyside Women’s Services Alliance. It aims to provide a joined-up approach in providing effective interventions and support for women experiencing complex and multiple needs, many of whom are caught up in the Criminal Justice System.
The launch builds on the recommendations made by Baroness Corston which called on probation services and other partner agencies to provide bespoke services for vulnerable women which include the creation of women’s centres. Here, attendees can visit, receive support and carry out the terms of their sentence in a female friendly environment.
Rosie Goodwin, Merseyside CRC community director, said: “The Merseyside Women’s Alliance brings together a number of organisations to support those who are often the most vulnerable in society.
“Much has been done to address the needs of female offenders on Merseyside since Baroness Corston led a review on women in the criminal justice system ten years ago. New regimes in women’s prisons have been introduced and HMP Styal is a testament to this.
“However, short-term prison sentences for women are incredibly disruptive to the lives of those women who may lose their jobs, homes and even their children because of, for example, non-payment of a TV licence. As such, more is being done to divert women from custody whilst ensuring that they serve the sentence of the court. A great deal more needs to be done”
The Deputy PCC Emily Spurrell said: ‘The PCC and I are fully committed to working with partners to address the complex issues around women’s offending and ultimately reduce the number of women in our prison system. There is lots of good work already being done by partners, such as Merseyside CRC, but if we really want to tackle women’s offending, we need a targeted and focused partnership approach. I look forward to working with the Merseyside Women’s Alliance to take forward this important work.
Merseyside CRC delivers a range of women’s services to service users including the Women’s Turnaround Centre in Kirkdale and the award-winning Tomorrow’s Women Wirral which offers a wide range of support for women through their rehabilitation.
Merseyside CRC’s Women’s Turnaround programme is specifically designed to support women in Liverpool and Sefton. The Women’s Turnaround programme offers individual support, legal advice, advocacy, housing benefit and debt management, employment, education and training, reading groups, health and well-being support, drug and alcohol abuse and counselling.
Tomorrow’s Women Wirral (TWW) is an inclusive support network for thousands of women on Merseyside and beyond. Based in Birkenhead, TWW aims to empower women to make positive lifestyle changes. Through a monthly timetable of courses and activities, women can gain new stills and experiences enabling them to change their circumstances for the better.
TTW works with women from all backgrounds including survivors of previous and current domestic abuse; drug and alcohol misuse; mental health issues; learning difficulties; social care and more.
Former-offender Jeanette has joined the board of the Merseyside Women’s Alliance. Having experience the criminal justice system, Jeanette is passionate about helping women in the criminal justice system after she herself completed almost eleven years in custody.
Jeanette said: “From what I’d heard about probation, I was worried before I was released about what to expect, and I was afraid of being breached and returned to jail.
“I’ve found nothing to be further from the truth. For me, my family and the support given to me by my probation officer have both helped me re-adjust to life outside following a long custodial sentence”
Jeanette served her sentence at HMP Styal and spent nine years as a volunteer at the prison’s drop-in centre. Her role included meeting people admitted to the prison and also supporting them on their release.
Other members of the Alliance include senior lead representatives from organisations across Merseyside which include police, National Probation Service, housing, health, DWP and voluntary sector. The plan is to embed the Alliance in local authority agendas over the next year.