Charities across Greater Manchester that support women offenders and those at risk of offending are celebrating after being awarded £375,000. Greater Manchester Women Offenders Alliance made a bid for money from the Governments £12 million ‘Tampon Tax’ Fund, which is an amount equivalent to VAT receipts from sanitary products each year. The winners were announced in the Budget on 16 March and the Alliance was one of only 19 organisations to be awarded money from the fund which was established to support a range of good causes across the UK specifically benefitting women.
Greater Manchester Women Offenders Alliance is made up of eight local charities that provide support services to women offenders and those at risk of offending across all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester. Alliance members receive funding and support from local councils, health organisations, the GM and Cheshire Community Rehabilitation Company (formerly the Probation Trust), the GM Public Service Reform Team and the Justice and Rehabilitation Executive.
The Alliance operates the Greater Manchester “whole system approach” to female offenders. Women can receive help and support wherever they find themselves in the criminal justice system. Police custody suites can refer women to their local centre when they are first arrested, magistrates courts can require women to attend courses at their local women’s centre, and the women’s centre workers visit women in prison and provide support to them on release. The charities involved take a holistic approach to supporting women, identifying their needs and then offering support in areas such as finding appropriate accommodation, addressing physical and mental health needs, working on benefits and debt issues, domestic abuse, and relationship issues. This support not only results in lives turned around and a massive reduction in offending, it also saves significant amounts of public money.
Kate Fraser, Chair of the Greater Manchester Women Offenders Alliance said: “We’re delighted that the Government has recognised the innovative work that we are doing to reduce offending by women in Greater Manchester and excited that this money will enable us to build on the strengths of our members by developing the Alliance and providing specialist staff to help women leave crime behind and build sustainable lives. Our dream is that every woman who offends or is at risk of offending will be able to access tailored, specialist support from their local women’s centre, giving them hope for a future free of crime where they can make a positive contribution to society. This money will help us achieve that dream.”
Martin Nugent from the Greater Manchester Public Service Reform Team said: “We’re thrilled that Greater Manchester Women Offenders Alliance has secured this vitally needed funding. In partnership with Greater Manchester and Cheshire Community Rehabilitation Company, and the Justice and Rehabilitation Executive we’ve worked hard over the last couple of years to support the development of comprehensive support services for female offenders across Greater Manchester, and it’s fantastic to see that the efforts of all partners have been rewarded with this major funding boost for the Alliance.”
The latest figures for the GM Women Offenders Alliance show that 87% of female offenders referred by probation services in Greater Manchester make positive progress in their lives when they engage with their local women’s centre.