SHE has a few members now. The very first members came to us via the Gateways Project & Lancashire Constabulary.
Our first two women were released from prison in August. No strangers to prison cells, SHE’s women are tough & resourceful. Naturally, issues have flared up. Our women are firstly human beings who have served their time and deserve support & encouragement. They both needed a home and SHE was able to provide this. SHE offers stable accommodation for six months, with support to maintain the accommodation. We also offer an office where our members can use the telephone to make all those ridiculously expensive calls to the DWP et Al.
Together, as a project, we have learned from each other. These women showed us what they needed and SHE as a project, gave them the space & time to find their feet.
Over coffee today, I approached with our women that we were at the halfway mark of their accommodation six-month period. I asked our women to think about the road ahead & their plans for when their six-month period was at an end. I offered our continued support if they felt they needed this and we had a unanimous, resounding “can we stay on the project & have another six months?”
With my utmost pleasure, ladies, you can indeed. As our flagship members, these women are settled, have been given the independence they sought, treated as human beings & they have a lovely home in which they are safe & protected. Oh & Mr Grayling? Two more to deduct from those pesky reoffending figures.
All of this was achieved from a tatty notepad, on a canal bank when I experienced first-hand the effects of homelessness and the Criminal Justice System.
Good news is. SHE has members bringing up the rear. Our males on INCAS are doing well and we have more women who have joined up for support & housing.
We are soon to open a five-bedroomed unit which will serve as temporary accommodation for women coming from prison. This will enable us to assess and prepare people for our project and offer what is a growing way of offering stable accommodation.
I have dragged myself through from a notepad, an idea and 18 months of writing about my experiences as a woman in the CJS. Our services are now being recognised, I have come up against a system that fails those it could help the most.
Were it not for the support of Burnley, Pendle & ROSSENDALE Council for Voluntary Services, the incredible sassy, professional and wonderful team who give their time freely to the project, SHE could not deliver as she does.
But SHE does. Because SHE can.