There is a move to try and get the Courts to find alternatives to imprisoning women, as it is well known that women are not only most often the main care givers in a family, but often commit offences due the fact that they have been let down by the system or men! It is also well known that short sentences do not work and lead to ‘revolving door’ cycle of:
Imprisonment – release - No practical help – reoffending – imprisonment -
The Women’s Building can offer solutions for community sentences, voluntary employment opportunities, ROTL as well as training and skills development and Business and Careers Advice.
A Women’s Building – Help all under one roof
In order to help women re-integrate back into the community after a traumatic experience (which is what prison is and we have all hopefully begin to understand having experienced Lock-Down) the Women’s Building (incorporating the Women’s Centre) needs to be at the heart of the development, that the whole community can embrace and experience. Women have been shut away behind the walls for over 100 years, it is time to open up, tackle the issues and unite the community. Having all community facilities and services under one roof and in one place makes integration easier, the whole building a more widely used and therefore more viable.
The Women’s Building would house:
A Women’s Centre – A Women-Only space providing help, therapy, advice and assistance to all women in touch with the Criminal Justice System and in the community wherever they live.
Women’s Building General ‘Community’ Centre – an open and inclusive space that has facilities for the whole community
Shared workshops and training rooms – Enabling classes for women-only sessions as well as the whole community
A Roof Garden – A space for the Women’s Building Farming Project and a mindfulness space
Women’s Building Farming Programme – maintenance and running of the grounds and gardens through to sale and distribution of produce.
Women’s Building General ‘Community’ Centre
This would be a friendly open space that is accessible and welcoming to everyone.
It would include:
An open reception lobby area – This could be hired for events and will be a welcoming communal multi-functional space.
A Women’s Building shop, selling items made in the building, by women in prison and other secure settings and by women in the community, as well as Women’s Building merchandise.
A Museum Area – a space honouring and informing the history of the prison
A Café – This could be run by volunteers and women on ROTL as well as employees.
A Creche – Women need somewhere for their children to be looked after while they are accessing services.
An Exhibition Space – Some where that can be hired and exhibit cultural and community projects as well as individual and group shows.
Hot-Desking – A space for people to meet and work together.
Function Rooms – Rooms that can be rented to to businesses and the wider community
Therapy Rooms – Space to deal with personal issues in groups
Interview rooms – Spaces for more intimate counselling and therapy
Art and Craft Workshops – See Training and Skills below.
Relationship counselling – Understanding that often women’s problems stem from their relationships with men, relationship counselling would look at all the factions within the family unit to understand them and find the best solutions for the whole family.
Legal Advice – Women may have on-going problem with their offences, or find themselves dealing with civil matters, family or criminal courts.
Bereavement Services – This can be particularly difficulty for vulnerable women, or any family member.
An Auditorium – A space that could be hired for conferences, entertainment and performances by theatre groups, musicians or schools etc.
Employment Agency – This should be an integral part of the Women’s Building. Case workers would help women find employment that suits their skill base and interests. This will require personal case workers, outreach to diverse business nationwide, and versatile employment opportunities throughout the Women’s Building site.
Careers Advice – helping women find areas of employment that will work for them, and how to go about preparing themselves for that work.
Life Coaching – When women are re-building their lives they often need help and guidance in the things that many people would not consider or take for granted. Guidance in how to establish your new life within society is essential for practical and confidence reasons.
Emergency studio Flats – See below
Managerial Offices – spaces from where the building would be run
Dance space with sprung floor – A community exercise space, divisible and shared with the Women’s Centre.
A Gym - A community exercise space, divisible and shared with the Women’s Centre.
Recording room - These acoustically secure rooms could also be used as recording studio, this could provide additional income and affiliation with Prison Radio could be created.
Photographic and printing Studio – Portraits, commercial photography, printing and design services, linked with employment services for freelancers. It would also have a Green-Screen facility to photograph against for digital image editing.
A Youth Centre – A place where young people can meet and participate in activites.