Our Womens Work grew out of an employer-led initiative to recruit female offenders. The overwhelming success of this led to us expanding the programme to other employers. The main thing we learnt was that female offenders tend to have more complex needs and barriers than other people with convictions.
Our flagship Women’s Work (WW) programme is a talent matching, employment-led programme that provides gender informed support to women with convictions, under probation and in the wider community with the aim of women achieving financial freedom. We have joined several women’s forums and made links with other specialist resettlement interventions. The main thing we learnt was that female offenders tend to have more complex needs and barriers than other people with convictions.
Our Womens Work grew out of an employer-led initiative to recruit female offenders. The overwhelming success of this led to us expanding the programme to other employers.
We are particularly proud of the track record of placing over 1,000 female ex-offenders into ‘good’ work including over 220 women on Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL). Women engage with our service through a variety of routes - self-referrals, DWP, partner and third sector organisations. However, referrals primarily come from prisons and probation.
We have delivered programmes in five of the 12 women’s prisons and have received referrals from all women’s prisons in England. We spend a lot of time in custody and supporting women on release, understanding the issues they face. Many have multiple needs but ultimately want work and our model is to work collaboratively with other specialist organisations and our employers to ensure reintegration plans, including work placements, are informed by all the identified needs of the women.
We are trying to address the fact that fewer than 1 in 20 of women are in employment 6 weeks after release and 50% of women involved in the criminal justice system are claiming an out of work benefit 2 years later.
Having the support from A Fairer Chance helped me with my disclosure, knowing they work with employers that want women with convictions, really encouraged me to aim for roles that I knew I was capable of.
Rachel, A Fairer Chance Beneficiary
Released on Temporary Licence (ROTL)
Female ex-offenders into 'good' work
I am a lived experience case manager for A Fairer Chance and the lead for AFCs Women’s Work. I use my experience of the Criminal Justice System and all its challenges to help women navigate back into employment. On leaving prison there is a misconception that the main emotion will be that of elation and ready to face the rest of their life. In reality all the problems that were there before have to be addressed. Even though this is an obvious emotion to experience, there are many other contradicting negative emotions that women prison leavers face, such as fear, loss, hopelessness, confusion, and guilt. I use my first-hand knowledge of these mixed emotions to support my clients reach their full potential and gain the right employment.
Being a prison leaver, I was determined to gain employment after my release with A Fairer Chance. This helped me to get back into the swing of normal life quickly and to earn money and work towards financial independence .It meant so much for my general wellbeing. As a case manager, I realise how low down the agenda employment is indeed its barely mentioned in the strategy .Having met hundreds of women in prison I know finding good work is as important for them as it was for me. This is not a one size fits all approach but one that acknowledges the resilience of the women, along with the challenges they face, and help women gain the right job for them, from entry level to civil service roles.
I do this job to help women to break the stigma attached to them once they have a conviction and to champion the narrative, 'If I can turn my life around so can you'.
Roxanne, A Fairer Chance Case Manager