Together Women Project in Yorkshire and Humberside was set up to develop radical new approaches to help reduce women’s offending. The women-only service is rooted in knowledge of the specific issues which affect women and girls in the criminal justice system, including histories of violence and abuse, drug misuse, mental illness and homelessness; however, it also recognises that intervention from the state often repeats the cycle of victimisation by locking women into the harshest patterns of punishment.
Lankelly Chase awarded a grant to Together Women to develop its work with a younger group involved in the criminal justice system (or at risk of offending), especially girls just entering their teenage years and those at the point of transition from ‘youth’ to ‘adult’ services when they are 17 or 18. The aim is to halt the escalation of young women’s difficulties and stop their progress through the criminal justice system.
Together Women is taking a new and proactive approach to reaching the local community, including working with the families and social networks of their existing, adult service users in order to tackle generational disadvantage. The service aims to identify early risk factors for young women like poverty, domestic abuse, truancy, parental conflict and poor parental supervision, and work to build their resilience, safety, wellbeing and self-esteem.
Together Women’s support is giving young women and girls a voice and helping them to understand their own capabilities; it will therefore enhance their ability to make a difference and co-design their own services. It is developing a new and more effective alternative to the current – often damaging – treatment of young women in the criminal justice system, with important learning which can be taken on in other areas of the country.
For more information: www.togetherwomen.org