Written by Carina Ng, a Resettlement Officer

In May 2017 we received funding from the People’s Postcode Trust, to tailor a part of our Resettlement Service to focus specifically on women’s needs. The funding enabled us to focus on this. Prisoners Abroad has started to run women’s only resettlement support groups, and have also started developing a women’s booklet.  Below, I document the setting up, running and afterthoughts of Prisoners Abroad first Women’s only group.

After a client focus group was held, it became apparent how important it was for there to be a place for female service users to share their feelings, thoughts and fears regarding deportation. In particular themes that were consistent were, adjusting to life without their children, being able to express how they feel, dealing with making choices after a period of time in prison and regaining a sense of identity.

Thanks to the funding we have received, we were able to provide the extra touches to make the group feel welcoming and special. We decided on a 5 year memory book, where clients can record one line a day, each day for 5 years.

The hope being that as they progress in their resettlement, they can look back and see the highs lows and just how far they have come. During set up we prepared a healthier buffet of food and set places, as if going for a lunch with friends. This all appeared to help with the positive, friendly and non-judgemental atmosphere that ensued.

We are fortunate to have such a positive, pro-active and engaging group of women currently accessing the Prisoners Abroad service. It was a pleasure to hear their stories, provide a space for them to access emotional support, and above all watch them chat amongst each other as if they were old friends.

From hearing the laughter within the group, and seeing the connection built over both the similarities and differences they shared, it was clear how important it is to be able to facilitate a women’s only space.  Both clients and staff are looking forward to the next Women’s Support Group.

Thank you to the People's Postcode Lottery for their support.