Your Ambition, the charity arm of our employee-owned public services provider Seetec, was appointed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) to manage a new centre in Bristol for women returning to the community after serving time in prison or handed a residential requirement by a court.
The centre is located in the Fishponds area of the city will become an Approved Premises (AP) for up to 26 women, supported by a specially trained all-women staff group to monitor their progress, reduce their risk to the public and help them to find permanent homes and work. The centre already had permission for use as a residential unit, but until recently was used as a day centre for women under probation supervision. Refurbishment of the building will begin immediately, and it will be ready to accommodate women from June 2021.
There is currently no centre of this kind for women in the South West or Wales and just six elsewhere in the country. With fewer than three in five women leaving prison with a home to go to and less than 10 per cent with a job, the centre will provide women from the region referred to Approved Premises with a bridge back into their home communities.
The charity will use Interventions Alliance, the new name for Seetec’s justice business unit that will be officially launched next year, to take on day-to-day responsibility for operating the centre.
Suki Binning, Executive Director of Justice and CRCs, said:
“This centre reverses the decline in specialist monitoring and support for women leaving prison, who often leave custody only to be separated from their home communities by hundreds of miles.
“The evidence shows that it is far more difficult to resettle people back into society without the stability of a home, job and family. That affects all of us because it makes reoffending more likely and, perhaps even more damaging, means children are more likely to follow their mother’s footsteps into a life of crime.
“We believe this is an opportunity to show strong leadership in the criminal justice system by breaking the cycle of reoffending amongst women offenders and helping more of them to reintegrate back into society. When we took over responsibility for the region’s probation services in 2019, the gap in service provision and the potential for this centre was clear. We are delighted that HMPPS shared our ambition for the centre and, following a constructive negotiation, entrusted our capable and experienced group of employee owners with turning this centre into an Approved Premises.
“This agreement is a vote of confidence in our charity and the experience and capability of our group of employee-owners. It cements our involvement in building safer communities across the South West and Wales to turn offenders away from crime and help them to realise their potential.”