Maudsley Charity is funding a new women’s hub in Croydon, which will provide services for women with serious mental illness (SMI) who have been hospitalised and have had contact with criminal justice services. It will build on the successful work of similar Women in Prison hubs that have already been operating across south London, but this funding will go towards establishing a Croydon-based service. The gender-specialist support will offer structured activities in the community.
It will be delivered by a team with mental health expertise from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), working alongside the charity Women in Prison.
Hubs across south London
The project will also look to upskill staff across all women’s centres in south London, and increase access to these hubs. Clinical psychologists at SLaM will support the services to become Trauma Responsive through supervision, reflective practice and training. These additional hubs are based in Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Sutton and Lewisham.
It aims to improve the support available in the community for this group of vulnerable women. Women with serious mental illness who have been affected by the criminal justice system are more likely to have experienced difficult childhood experiences and other trauma, as well as homelessness as poverty. They are also more likely to be from a minority ethnic community.
Three strands of the project
The first stage of opening a drop-in centre in Croydon has been delayed by Covid-19 until March 2021. The space will open once a week, offering signposting services, the opportunity to speak to key workers, and workshops in self-care and dramatherapy. This combination of practical, creative and psycho-educational support has been effective in other south London hubs, especially the Beth Centre based in Lambeth.
Once a month Women in Prison will offer an introductory workshop at Bethlem Royal Hospital to introduce patients to the team and signpost to the Croydon service, with the aim of developing their links pathways into the community.
The final strand will involve clinical psychologists working with Women in Prison to develop a Trauma Responsive Service. This will be through supporting a working group (made up of staff and service users) to focus on trauma responsivity within each of the hubs in South London. The aim will be for Women in Prison to be able to continue to offer psychotherapeutic groups based on a trauma informed response once the project comes to an end.
The project will be co-produced with participants, including women who are currently patients at Bethlem Royal Hospital or using Croydon community mental health services. Rachel Holden, Clinical Psychologist at SLaM said: “We have an ambition to involve service users in as many aspects of this as possible”.
Find out more about Women in Prison: www.womeninprison.org.uk