Holloway: a network

Many of our volunteers have undertaken research to develop our understanding of Holloway and the stories we are collecting. Meg Deschamps writes about some of the organisations which sprung up around Holloway:

One of the overriding themes taken away from the Echoes of Holloway Prison project, is the idea of Holloway as a network – a network of women held or working there, of local organisations providing support services,and of the wider community.

From the early beginnings of Holloway, women have campaigned together to improve the living conditions of women held by prisons and their lives once they leave. They range from individual activists and women with personal experience of offending, to established support organisations, each with an inspiring journey to share.

The Treasures Foundation was founded by Mandy Ogunmokun in 2011, who herself was held at the prison. They offer support and guidance to women with a history of drug abuse and offending, through three houses in East London, and were recently awarded funding from SEGRO to benefit the organisation’s Independent Living groups.

Working Chance, founded by Jocelyn Hillman in 2009, provides recruitment support to women. Based on her experiences meeting women held in prison, Hillman saw the need to change the stigma many women formerly held in prisons feel they face by potential employers and society once they leave. The group now have offices in London and Manchester, and run a recruitment office inside HMP Downview in Surrey, where many women from Holloway are now held.

Birth Companions provides free support to pregnant women and new mothers in prisons, including advice, group sessions, resources, and taking photos for the new mother and her child. The organisation developed from the ‘Holloway Doula Group’, which was created in response to reports that women in prisons were giving both without any friends or family around them. They provided support for women at Holloway for 20 years until the site closed, and now run weekly groups for women at Bronzefield and Peterborough prisons.

Women in Prison was also founded by a woman formerly held at Holloway in the 1980s. Chris Tchaikovsky, alongside criminologist Pat Carlen, founded the group in response to the conditions she witnessed at Holloway, and as a means to campaign for change in the criminal justice system and provide support for those women impacted by it. They provide support inside and outside prisons in England, as well as a series of women’s centres across the country. They also produced ‘After Holloway’ in 2015, alongside the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, a study of 50 asking 50 women affected by the criminal justice system whether the closure of Holloway has had an impact.

The Griffins Society was founded in 1965 with the aim of providing hostel accommodation to women leaving Holloway Prison, and was named after the two statues of griffins holding keys in their claws originally placed outside the prison’s gates. The group’s main aim is to bring about change to the criminal justice system by sponsoring practitioner-led research to inform wider policy.

For more information on these groups:

http://www.hollowayprisonstories.com/heritage/

http://treasuresfoundation.org.uk/

https://workingchance.org/about/

https://www.womeninprison.org.uk/

https://www.birthcompanions.org.uk/

https://www.thegriffinssociety.org/

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