Local Businesswoman Joins Prison Campaign

Helen and LIz (1)A REDLAND businesswoman has visited a prison with a team of women from a voluntary organisation as part of a campaign to reduce women’s custodial sentences.

Helen Davies (left in the photo), who runs graphic design company For Effect, talked to inmates at Eastwood Park in Wotton-under-Edge to learn more about life behind bars. 

She was joined by Liz Corrigan (right in the photo) and eight others from Soroptomist International, which is a service set up to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities worldwide. The group is working with the Prison Reform Trust to end the ‘unnecessary imprisonment of women in the UK.’

Married mum-of-two Helen, who has also worked as a Design Technology Teacher for over ten years, said: “Prison disrupts the lives of vulnerable women, most of whom pose no risk to the public.

I believe it’s foolish to break up families by sending women to prison – often far from their homes – for a non-violent crime. As a teacher and in my personal life, I’ve seen children end up in care, which is very sad. A better outcome for women and their families would be the reduced use of prison and increased use of community alternatives.”

In the UK, nearly 14,000 women are sent to prison and more than 80 per cent are convicted for non-violent offences. It is estimated over 17,000 children were separated from their mothers in 2010 by imprisonment. Evidence suggests it is harmful to the children and costs the state more than £17 million over a decade.

Liz, who is the president of the club, said: ““Rather than custody, many of these women could be safely managed in the community as they do not pose a significant risk of harm to the public.  This would minimise the cost to the society but to do this we require more Women’s Centres.”  

Helen, who has won the contract to do the design work for the Soroptomist International 80thconference, said she got a glimpse into life inside a prison during her visit.

She said: “The women we spoke to told us about their everyday problems, such as getting changed without privacy, and said they believed they had changed.”

The Soroptomists, which has 90,000 member worldwide, believe women’s centres such as Eden House in Fishponds are better alternatives to prison. Eden House is one of 55 women’s centres in the UK, providing services for women who want to improve their lives.

For more information on the Soroptomists and their reducing women in prison campaign, visithttp://www.soroptimist-ukpac.org/about/show/526/

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