Revolving Doors first started a women’s forum over a year ago through the lockdown. The first meeting was held in May 2020. During this meeting, we discussed why it would be beneficial to have a women’s only forum. The key points that were brought up were that women may not feel comfortable talking about certain issues in front of male company such as domestic violence and mental health issues.
We also discussed key topics that we would want to discuss in the future such as support in prison for domestic violence and also female health support in the criminal justice system.
We agreed the women’s forum would take place regularly and if anyone didn’t feel comfortable speaking out loud then they could participate in other ways. We also came up with the idea that a member of the lived experience team would help facilitate at each meeting too.
During the first women’s forum we designed the women’s charter which is the agreement on being in the meeting and what we wanted it to be like for example we came up with a tagline that it’s ‘run by women for women’, the agenda would be set by the women. It was agreed that generally no men were to be present at the meeting but if a man did need to be present, the members would be told in advance. It was agreed the forum is a safe space for women and we could talk without feeling judged or stigmatised and everyone has the right to voice their opinions.
Since the first women’s forum, the group has had an impact on important projects across the sector. Most notably has been their input on the Residential Women’s Centre pilot, where they have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice. Since their initial introduction meeting in June 2020, the MoJ team have returned to present and consult with the group, 5 times, discussing a variety of subjects from compliance & staffing to the interior specification of the RWCs.
Alongside this amazing achievement, they have also worked with women’s organisations in the sector to contribute invaluable input into the design process of creating lived experience panels. Policy Manager Olivia, from Working Chance said:
The group has also welcomed 4 new members who have already made brilliant contributions! One member shared:
Looking forward, the women’s forum is working as a collective to embrace creative ideas through lived experience to challenge policy procedures and create positive change. The group discussed their priorities and ways they would like to work as a group recently, and are working on creating a vision document. To be able to achieve the more diverse and equal the forum is, the more we can demonstrate working in solidarity to achieve this goal.
Are you a woman with lived experience of repeated contact with the criminal justice system and would like to make a difference? Then contact Anna about the women’s forum to find out more!