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Scarborough Women's Project Celebrated

Scarborough Women's Project Celebrated

Published by the Yorkshire Coast Radio News Team at 2:11pm 23rd March 2012.

The success of a Scarborough-based project aimed at changing the lives of vulnerable women is being celebrated at an event in the town today.


The Women’s Community Project, run by Scarborough’s Cambridge Centre, will be the focal point of a conference on Justice for Women.


The event, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, will feature key figures from the national campaign to help keep women away from crime and prison.

But centre stage will be The Women’s Community Project, which has helped turn round the lives of many vulnerable women since it was set up almost two years ago.


Last year it won a top award from the Howard League for Penal Reform, being one of just five projects to win a Community Programmes Award from more than 100 entries.

The award recognised the way the Women’s Community Project has helped women in the area to escape from situations that had or were potentially leading them into crime.

Friday’s conference is jointly organised with the Howard League for Penal Reform and is part of the project’s reward for winning the award.


Project Co-ordinator Liz Race said Friday was an opportunity to both celebrate the project’s success and also address serious issues surrounding justice for women.


“It provides a very useful showcase for the success of the project and a chance to share what we have achieved with a wide range of people – people who refer women to us, representatives from the criminal justice system, the police and many of our other partner agencies,” she said.


“At the same time the conference will focus on the whole issue of justice for women and the growing need for women to be looked upon differently when it comes to the criminal justice system.”


Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said: “I am delighted to have awarded the Cambridge Centre one of our prestigious community programme awards, in recognition of all of their hard work to achieve positive changes in women’s lives.



“The Women’s Community Project provides a range of services that really enhance the lives of women as well as the wider community. The project has gone from strength to strength and is really able to get to grips with the complex issues that go hand in hand with addiction problems.


“The winners of our Community Programme Awards are beacons of best practice and a key example of how hard working professionals can succeed with those who have committed crimes and help them turn their lives around. It is by emulating examples like these that we can build an effective criminal justice system for the future.”


Main speakers on Friday will be Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns for the Howard League for Penal Reform, Jenny Chapman MP and Dr Kesia Reeve, Women & Homelessness.

The Women’s Community Project is at the forefront of efforts to have women treated differently by the criminal justice system to try to steer them away from crime and away from potentially damaging prison sentences.


It works with women already in the criminal justice system and other vulnerable women in Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale. It helps them to tackle issues in their lives – like crime, drug or alcohol misuse or involvement in abusive relationships - that can result in them being involved in the criminal justice system. Help ranges from tackling drug or alcohol misuse to finding better accommodation, education, training and work to assist victims of domestic abuse.


One of the most common examples where a woman has been placed in custody is due to failing to complete a community order. The Women’s Community Project is able to offer placements to women who, through child care or placement risk issues, are more difficult to place on a standard work party or single placement.  This option increases the opportunity for these women to complete their order and therefore, reduce the risk of custody through breaching this requirement.


In their submission to the Howard League for Penal Reform awards, the project was able to demonstrate major successes. For example, of the women who reported issues with drugs and alcohol, 91% have made positive progress in tackling it, including abstinence, reduction and management of use.


Of women who reported difficulties with their skills and employment prospects, 81% have made progress by finding employment, training or volunteering opportunities.


Out of those reporting issues with their attitudes, thinking and behaviour, 87% have moved forward through improving their self-esteem, confidence and well-being.


● National statistics show that around 33% of women lose their home when they enter prison and that around 17,700 children a year are separated from their mothers by imprisonment. 55% of these mothers have children under 18. The majority of women have committed non-violent offences and present little risk to the public.

Statistics show that short prison sentences do not successfully deflect from further offending and for many women make their lives and those of their children worse.




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