Tomorrows Women Glasgow – 3 years on

Today we hear from Anne Gallacher, Team Leader, Tomorrows Women Glasgow about how the service has developed since it began.

We are Tomorrows Women Glasgow (TWG): a unique, multi-agency Community Justice Centre that engages with women who are at high risk of reoffending, whose needs are particularly complex and substantially varied. The service commenced in December 2013, initially with seed funding from the Scottish Government and now through joint resourcing from public sector partners. TWG is based in the Gorbals area of Glasgow and supports women across the city.

Service user involvement is the heart of our approach. We work from a trauma informed model with women involved in the design and running of the Centre. This has increased women’s confidence and motivation enabling them to believe that positive change is possible thus helping them reduce their offending.

We address drivers of crime by focusing on the complex needs of female offenders.  We have a remit to reduce reoffending and improve community safety. We do so through supporting behavioural change through the delivery of an integrated, tailored approach.  We also make efficient use of public resources by co-ordinating interventions, reducing duplication and sharing information.

We provide a “one-stop” shop where Health, Social Care, Housing Services and the Scottish Prison Service are all based within our centre. The staff come from Criminal Justice Social Work, Addiction and Mental Health Services, Housing, Psychology and the Scottish Prison Service.  All operating as a single team, we bring a collective, professional experience which meets women as individuals but provides a wide focus of response.

Women present to us with layers of complex traumatic experiences, including historical child sexual abuse, neglect, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, losing care of children and serious physical and mental health conditions; experiences very much interwoven with their crimes.

We address trauma by working from a trauma informed practice model (Harris and Fallot 2001) which incorporates:

  • Acknowledgement that trauma is pervasive
  • Creating a safe environment
  • Building trust
  • Collaboration
  • Strengths based approach
  • Offering choice
  • Being compassionate
  • Ongoing training for staff

We work beyond our centres walls reaching out to women across the city. We meet women in their communities, in prison, in their accommodation, as well as at the gate when they leave prison.  By immersing ourselves in communities we are better able to engage women and to understand their needs and plan responses.

The past 3 years 

The last 3 years have been exciting, rewarding, challenging, frustrating and a huge learning experience for all involved.  We have engaged with over 300 women and our activities have been wide ranging.  Some of these activities include health improvements through cooking, walking, cycling, Zumba and yoga; adult literacy through creative arts and design and creative writings; health, relaxation and wellbeing through confidence building, relaxation, acu-detox and reikki; improving mental health through improving coping skills, individual work and trauma work through our clinical psychologist and mental health nurses.

The women have also campaigned against domestic abuse, raised money for breast cancer, held events during International Womens Day and 16 days of Action; delivered presentations at Scottish Government, Social Work Conference, have met with the Justice Secretary and members of the judiciary.  They have taken part in a TV documentary and have produced and performed in an outstanding production at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.  Three women have now trained to become volunteers within the centre and one woman is being trained to deliver our healthy cooking course.

The Evidence

Our evidence demonstrates a clear pattern of positive outcomes with significantly reduced reoffending, reduced court appearances, reduced prison time, reduced A&E attendance, reduced drug and alcohol use, improved physical and mental wellbeing, improved access to accommodation, reengaging with families and access to learning and employment.

These changes have left a lasting benefit for women but also a legacy of safer communities for Glasgow. The lessons learned from Tomorrows Women have been captured to shape wider service planning in Health and Social Care by understanding trauma and trauma informed practice, how best resources are deployed, how pathways are developed, cost benefits are defined and an ability to highlight multiple positive outcomes.

Anne Gallacher, Team Leader, Tomorrows Women Glasgow                              

Maxine Harris, Roger D. Fallot, Envisioning a Trauma-Informed Service System: 2001