Deadline approaches to note interest in funding to support women in the justice system

This latest blog comes from Allison Mathews, Senior Policy and Learning Manager, Big Lottery Fund Scotland:

Organisations working with women in the criminal justice system have just weeks left to submit an expression of interest to the Big Lottery Fund’s £7.5 million early action fund. As a funder awarding life changing National Lottery funds, we know intervening early, and getting the right help to people at the right time helps reduce discrimination and disadvantage that can follow people throughout their lives.

Early Action System Change is one of the ways we are using our funds to help tackle this head on.

Through this fund, we are investing in three areas, one of which is ‘Women and criminal justice’.

There are a number of differences between the experience of women and men in prison. For example, women are more likely to have been imprisoned for non-violent offences. The drivers behind their offending often includes relationship breakdown and financial concerns. And women are most likely to be the primary carers of children.

We believe there is an opportunity to help organisations working across sectors to collaborate and re-focus public expenditure on approaches to prevent women from getting involved, or further involved, with the criminal justice system. This may include, for example, alternatives to custodial sentences, new approaches to diversion from prosecution or developing early approaches to address root causes of offending behaviour.

Through Early Action System Change, we want to help partners from pubic and third sector organisations come together strategically to find innovative ways to reallocate existing expenditure to effective early action.  This could include, for example, gathering evidence of what works, mapping existing spend, improved data collection or analysis, or evaluating the way the current services within the Criminal Justice System works. We can support costs such as research and evaluation, cost benefit analysis, gathering baseline data, and small test and learn pilots (as part of a wider part of system change programme).  This fund is unable to support ongoing or new service delivery, or statutory services.

Most importantly, we believe successful system change must be driven by those who directly benefit from these services and we will want to know they are at the heart of any re-design.

Early Action System Change closes to expressions of interest at midday on 2 October 2017. To find out more about the fund, visit   You can also listen to our recent webinar recording for applicants here (