This week’s blog is a great perspective from Mhairi Ross, Service Development Manager, Apex Scotland, focusing on work in Dumfries & Galloway away from the more urban areas, so useful to compare the different challenges and approaches.
Apex operate the Shine woman’s mentoring service which is part of the national Public Social Partnership (PSP) on behalf of Sacro in Dumfries and Galloway. This service was launched as a direct result of the Commission for Women Offenders 2012. It recognised that “intensive mentoring (a one-to-one relationship where practical support and mentoring is provided by mentors on a wide range of issues relating to offending behaviour) should be available to woman offenders at risk of reoffending or custody to support compliance with court orders”.
The original allocation in Dumfries and Galloway was only one full time member of staff to cover the region. Dumfries and Galloway covers a very large geographic area and being based in Dumfries and Galloway for 16 years Apex were aware that this was not sustainable. Rather than 1 member of staff being based in the East of the region (which is what usually happens) we decided to split the post in to 2 part time positions covering both East and West. This enabled all woman in Dumfries and Galloway to be able to access the service regardless of where they lived. Both Shine mentors are busy and there is not any real difference from the figures in the East compared to the West, even though the population in the West of the region is much smaller.
The referrals can either be prison referrals or community referrals. Prison referrals are for any woman who is on remand or serving a sentence of less than 4 years. Community referrals can be made by Criminal Justice Social Work where they feel there is a risk of breaching their order. This could be at the start of their order if there is a history of non-compliance or during it if the person is struggling to manage their order. The Shine mentors have built up an excellent working relationship with Criminal Justice staff in Dumfries and Galloway and the social workers can really see the value of the woman engaging with Shine.
The mentors offer support and guidance to the women and this can take the form of.
- Helping to register with Doctor or dentist and in some cases if appropriate taking the women to appointments.
- Signpost to appropriate agencies for more complex issues such as substance misuse or complex welfare matters.
- Attend homeless housing to help secure accommodation on day of release.
- Arrange gate pick up from prison
Auricular Acupuncture is a specialised complementary therapy where acupuncture points on the outer ear are treated, using needles / magnets to help relieve many chronic complaints. The treatment is a powerful and effective way of dealing with the anxiety in the mind and body and associated symptoms.
Some of the reported benefits include-
- Reduced withdrawal symptoms from drug and alcohol use
- Deeper and better sleeping
- Reduced cravings
- Reduced stress and irritation
- Improved appetite
The level of support each woman needs differs and the Shine mentors complete an action plan with each woman to decide what areas they need most support in. The support can be up to a maximum of six months which can sometimes not be long enough for some woman. Our Shine mentors are able to refer the woman to other Apex services if appropriate to ensure the woman continue to have support if needed.