A new publication from Together – a leading UK charity working alongside people to improve mental health and wellbeing – is so relevant to Re-Unite’s work.
A common sense approach to working with women with health and wellbeing needs in the criminal justice system was launched on 26th Feb 2013 by Vera Baird (Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria) at an event organised by Together and hosted by London Probation Trust.
Written by front-line forensic mental health practitioners, the guide aims to support professionals to identify and address the needs of women offenders. It offers really practical guidance on spotting potential issues and the tools to refer women to specialist community-based support services.
A large majority of women on the Re-Unite programme have been diagnosed with some form of mental health difficulty. A massive 61% are living with some form of depression. Those without diagnosed mental health problems have reported ongoing low moods, low self esteem and lack of confidence. A significant number of the women we work with have also experienced domestic violence.
Re-Unite projects are used to working with women with mental health problems and all have robust pathways in place to ensure that women receive the support they need from specialist community-based services. However, we find that women’s complex and multiple needs are often overlooked by colleagues in the criminal justice system, which can inhibit any progress made.
This guide will be a useful resource in the ‘toolkit’ of Re-Unite projects and we can see its value both as a training aid for new staff but also as a resource to share with Prison and Probation colleagues, many of whom are co-located with Re-Unite staff.
‘Things weren’t great. I was in prison and before that had a very unstable life. Since you started working with me a lot has changed…my life, my kids’ lives…as a mother, as a person I have gained confidence to lead a good life. I just want to be happy and to be a good mum”.
Rachel, a Re-Unite client and a mother of three children aged 2, 3 and 4.