Providing positive choices for vulnerable women and their children

Anawim exists to support women and their children especially women vulnerable to prostitution

Anawim supports women in Birmingham who are involved in and around prostitution, offending behaviour, drug abuse and sexual exploitation. Support is provided for both women and their children, aiming to help them move their lives forward. Anawim also provides an alternative to custody for vulnerable women in the criminal justice system, and is experienced in work with women who have personality disorders or have been banned from other local services.

Lankelly Chase funds Anawim to test an alternative model for treating mental health for women suffering from severe and multiple disadvantage. Rather than the other kinds of fragmented and piecemeal support available in the community, Anawim offers flexible and holistic support for women through a specialist mental health case worker, a Commmunity Psychiatric Nurse and a psychologist, and offers a mix of one-to-one sessions, group work, support in the community and practical help. This is all provided in a ‘one stop shop’ environment where women can feel safe and secure, and can take an active role in their own support journey instead of being tripped up by pre-determined ‘referral pathways’ and rigid procedures. By working with custody suites, A&E departments and other local partners, Anawim is able to identify and support these women at an earlier stage than was possible before.

Like many of Lankelly Chase’s funded projects, Anawim’s approach recognises that previous attempts to engage women in services have been ineffective or have even made things worse, for example by stigmatising them, degrading or diminishing their strengths, signposting them elsewhere without any follow-up, or treating them as a ‘risk’ when what they really need is appropriate support. Anawim’s approach also recognises that women’s journeys are very different from men’s, and that there are often deep roots of trauma in their behaviour and experiences.

This pilot aims to shine a light on a more effective way of working with women that could have huge significance for wider practice. The evaluation will look at key personal outcomes including life skills, mental and physical health, independence, accommodation and goals set by the women being supported, and it will also look at the potentially massive cost savings incurred by reaching women earlier and engaging them effectively with the support they want and need.

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