What We Do:
WomenMATTA provide an intensive, holistic support service to women at risk of offending, women at risk of receiving custodial sentences and women who are released from custody after serving a sentence of less than 6 months.
We run a free drop in every Friday 1-4 where we provide a hot lunch, practical support (eg help with housing, benefits etc) and run a different activity each week. This is open to all women (18+) whether or not they are in the criminal justice system. The drop in is held at the Pankhurst Centre, 60-62 Nelson Street, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester M13 9WP (in the MRI complex).
For more information please contact us on 0161 832 6544.
If you have anything you'd like to say or you would like to guest blog for us please let us know in the comments box or contact us (number above.)
We know that the majority of women in contact with the criminal justice system experience mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and psychosis. Many have struggled with suicide attempts and self harm. We also know that a huge proportion of the women's prison population have complex mental health problems.
Mental distress is something which affects most of the women we support at WomenMATTA, and it something we spend time supporting women with.
The new report on Crisis Care in mental health produced by mental health charity Mind is therefore very relevant to our work.
Mind spoke to hundreds of people who had accessed crisis/acute care. They were shocked to find that people felt the care they received was discriminatory, traumatic and coercive. We would agree with Mind's view that this is not acceptable.
In their report, Mind make four recommendations, including "Humanity", and "Choice and Control", something which sits very closely to WomenMATTA's own values in working with women. We would hope that these recommendations are not just taken up in crisis care services, but across the board for all mental health services.
You can read a summary of their report here:
- What should we call the young women's service?
- Who should we invite - homeless women, youth clubs, women in prison?
- What do you want to do - workshops, advice, trips?
- What do you need support with - housing, employment, drug use?
- When is the best time - at drop-ins, evenings, weekends?
- What do you need from us to attend - childcare, food, friendly faces?
Homeopathy is a way of healing that has been used for over 250 years. It involves treating each person as an individual, looking at mental/emotional well-being as well as physical symptoms.
After the homeopath has met with the patient and discussed their symptoms, they are then given remedies in the form of tablets to take. Remedies are made from natural substances (i.e. flowers/plants/minerals) and are prescribed to match the patient’s symptoms as a WHOLE which makes it very different from a trip to the doctors!
Since I joined WomenMATTA as a volunteer in March 2010 I have seen and treated around 60 women. These include staff and volunteers but are mainly service users. I volunteer once a month on the Friday Drop-in sessions from 1pm – 4pm.
The impacts of Homeopathy can be far-reaching, and will vary from person to person depending on their level of health and length of treatment. All advice and remedies are given free of charge at WomenMATTA.
The key areas I have been asked to help with over the past 18 months are:
· Insomnia/sleep troubles
· Skin problems
· Muscle/joint pain
The above list is not exhaustive, but gives a good idea of how versatile homeopathy can be, and that each time I see a new woman a whole new person and picture of symptoms is revealed. Homeopathy aims to encourage your body to heal itself rather than using chemicals such as standard medicine does. Things that happen everyday can knock you and your health ‘off balance’ such as arguments, lack of sleep, stress at work etc. Homeopathy aims to restore energy and balance in people.
I have learnt a lot quite quickly since starting at womenMATTA, for example in my usual homeopathy practice I spend up to 2 hours with a new patient, whereas sometimes at the drop-in I can see up 6 people in 3 hours. This means prescribing quickly and accurately when treating each woman.
Hearing the stories of the women at the drop-in and seeing their strength and determination to make their lives better inspires me. Their honesty and trust when they choose to come and share their story with me or seek my advice makes me feel privileged.
It’s a great feeling having the opportunity to help women by using homeopathic remedies, or sometimes just by providing space for someone to talk and have 10 minutes time-out. I have had some lovely feedback from the women and I hope that the homeopathy treatment and experience leaves people with some of that great feeling too as well as relief from symptoms.
Laura Shields RSHom, BSc (Hons)
Next session 2nd December - (come and grab me for a chat if you want to know more!)
CRI works with individuals, families and communities across England and Wales that are affected by drugs, alcohol, crime, homelessness, domestic abuse, and antisocial behaviour.
Their projects, delivered in communities and prisons, encourage and empower people to regain control of their lives and motivate them to tackle their problems.
What a great opportunity and well done CRI !
In practical terms, it means less funding, less support workers, less workshops, less everything. It also means cuts to housing benefit, cuts to disability benefits and cuts in care packages. But what does it mean REALLY? What effect do these cuts have on women, in particular? At WomenMATTA, we can see that the cuts mean women have less options about support, and less opportunities for development and progress in the community. We'd love to hear what you think ...