An innovative service that supports women on probation is celebrating its first anniversary this year. The Footsteps programme, led by St Giles, provides unique and bespoke support for women in prison, and those subject to a Community Order. The programme focuses on wellbeing to ensure they feel connected and supported.
To mark the occasion, Kelly Broadbent, St Giles Yorkshire Service Manager and the Footsteps team held a celebratory event today (28 June 2022) at the Directions office, York where local professionals were invited to meet people who have overcome adversity and are now working to support others.
The women the service aims to help are facing severe barriers to moving forward. In a recent survey of prisoners by the MOJ, women reported significantly more negative results for questions related to problems on arrival at prison.
Compared to males, a higher proportion of women report more self-declared mental health problems, physical disability, having drug and alcohol problems, money worries and housing worries. A higher proportion of women prisoners, compared to men also carry out self-harm. In 2019, the number of individuals who self-harmed per 1,000 prisoners was 335 for women and 148 for men.
Women work towards training as a St Giles Peer Advisor, using their own first-hand experiences of overcoming adversity to inspire and support other women facing similar situations to make positive changes.
The service has received over 200 referrals and 19 females have been supported into accommodation and 27 have had debts cleared.
Nicola (name changed), 39, from Scarborough, came to St Giles after facing eviction due to financial difficulties and getting caught in shoplifting, but thanks to the programme has been able to turn her life around.
Nicola said: “I was about be evicted from my home as I was behind with my rent. St Giles gave me the right advice to sort out my finances and budgeting as well as help with an addiction to amphetamines, helping me set up meetings with Narcotics Anonymous. As my PIP has been sorted, I’ve been able to decorate and furnish my new flat. Now that I have moved away from drugs, I feel so much better in myself and I’ve got a much better relationship with my family. I can’t thank St Giles enough – my case worker Kelly is mint!”
Services Manager Kelly Broadbent said: “We are so proud that the service has achieved so much in just the space of one year. Our committed team of case workers are dedicated towards turning the lives around of the women they support. We’re particularly pleased that so many of the participants have gone on journeys to give back to others facing similar challenges and difficulties”