Monday, 21 November 2011

Mind's report on Crisis care in Mental Health

For those of you who follow the WomenMATTA blog, you will remember that it wasn't too long ago that we were celebrating World Mental Health Day.
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:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

What do you want?

On Friday 25 November we are asking young women (under 25) that have been involved in the Criminal Justice System, to tell us what they would like to see in our new YOUNG WOMEN'S SERVICE!
  • 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?
Come along for a chat and free lunch to The Pankhurst Centre at 12-1.30 on Friday 25 November. If you can't make it but have some ideas tell us by commenting below or contacting Si├ón on, 0161 273 1518.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Homeopathy at WomenMATTA

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

· Anxiety

· Stress

· Grief

· Fear

· Headaches

· Coughs

· Colds

· Skin problems

· Muscle/joint pain

· Depression

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!)

For queries or information on private consultations and treatment outside womenMATTA please call 07932 362912 or email or visit

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Job opportunity for ex service users

Have a look at this and circulate to anyone you think may be interested :

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 !

Thursday, 3 November 2011

It's official - WomenMATTA is the main support for women offenders in Manchester.

Manchester City Council has compiled a report for the Citizenship and Inclusion Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This report  provides the Committee with information about discrimination against women in relation to employment, representation in political life, crime, and access to public services, with a particular focus on women in Manchester. The report also provides information about what action is being taken to address discrimination issues for women in Manchester.

Have a look at Section 5 :
The main support for women offenders in Manchester is WomenMATTA, a partnership between Greater Manchester Probation, the Pankhurst Centre and Women in Prison. The project supports women at risk of offending, women serving community sentences and women released from prison after remand or a custodial sentence of less than six months. The project benefits from the work of the Women in Prison charity; they have a national freephone advice line, information and advice sessions in all 14 women’s prisons and specialist support workers for young women, BME women, older women and women with a history of mental illness. WomenMATTA is delivered from the Pankhurst Centre, a women only space that also provides gender based violence services. WomenMATTA believe it is important that the service is delivered from a women only space so women accessing the service feel safe and able to engage with the support offered.

Check out the full report :

Reasons for diversions from custody

Statistics from the Bromley Briefings produced by the Prison Reform Trust
More than half of women in UK prisons say that they have suffered domestic violence and one in three has experienced sexual abuse.
The educational achievement of women prisoners is lower than for male prisoners. [74% left school at 16 or before. Only 39% have any qualifications at all, compared to 82% of the general population. 41% of women prisoners have not worked in the past five years.]
70 percent of women prisoners have 2 or more diagnosed mental health issues.
66% of women prisoners are mothers, and each year it is estimated that more than 17,700 children are separated form their mothers by imprisonment
Of all women who are sent to prison, 37% say that they have attempted suicide at some time during their life.
Rates of self-harm or injury in women’s prisons rose 48% in recorded incidents between 2003 and 2007. [In 2006, women accounted of 11, 503 or 49% of total recorded incidents of self-harm, even though they form only around 6% of the prison population]
66% of sentenced women in prison say they were either drug dependent or drinking to hazardous levels before custody. [A University of Oxford report on the health of 500 women prisoners found that 58% of women had used drugs daily in the six months before prison and 75% of women prisoners had used illegal drugs during that six month period.]
In 2007 foreign national women made up 22% of the female prison population.
One in four women in prison has spent time in local authority care as child.
The majority of sentenced female prisoner are held for non-violent offences. [At the end of March 2008, the largest group (28%) were held for drug offences].
[More women were sent to prison in 2006 for theft and handling stolen goods than any other crime]. They account for almost a third (31%) of all women sentenced to immediate custody.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Pankhurst Centre - Future Development

The Pankhurst Centre would like to know your ideas on the future development of its services. All women are welcome......

The Pankhurst Centre Management Committee

invite you to an open meeting to discuss

The Future Development of The Pankhurst Centre

Tuesday 15th November 2011

To be held at The Pankhurst Centre,
60-62 Nelson Street
, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester, M13 9WP

Please address enquiries to The Pankhurst Centre:
0161 273 5673 or

All Women Welcome

Engaging with the Judiciary

Let me introduce myself
My name is Yvonne Davies, married to Ernie and a mother of 4. We have 7 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild.
I have been a volunteer in various organisations from a playgroup and school Parent Teachers Association in the 1970s to a Local Newspaper, Healthy Living Centre Steering Group and Counselling Service. In 1998 I set up a free Counselling Service to run alongside my private practice. Referrals come from individuals, GP’s, Social Workers and other organisations.
The free counselling service offers placements to trainees in their final year at Adult Colleges and Universities in Manchester, Cheshire and Salford and the Liaison Officer for Counselling Northwest.
As a Magistrate in Manchester since March 2000 it has been an honour to serve the local community and since 2009 been the Deputy Chairman of the Manchester City Magistrates’ Court and from 1st January 2012 Deputy of the newly merged Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court.
In March 2011 along with students from the Manchester Metropolitan University we celebrated 650th Anniversary of Magistrates by having a Court Open Day. 500 people came to see what we were all about.
Magistrates go out into the community giving talks to groups about what we do and with Probation Officers have interactive presentation where participants decide what punishment they would like to hand out to the criminal that we read about in a newspaper cutting.
 I also sit on the WomenMATTA strategic Steering Group ensuring that there is a direct method of communication between the Project and Magistrates in Manchester. This way we can keep track of new initiatives for women involved in the Criminal Justice System in  and the North West.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

farewell to welfare?

You can't escape hearing about the cuts at the moment. It's in the news, people talk about it at bus stops and in cafes, and we hear women talking about it at our project. But what does it mean?
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 ...