Prior to the establishment of the VSB Foundation VSB had a long-standing partnership with the Pilgrim Trust, since 1982 this partnership has distributed approximately £400,000. In December 2010, a new VSB Foundation- Pilgrim Trust launched a new small grants programme focussing on interventions with women involved in the Criminal Justice system. The purpose was to encourage local community interventions to address some of the underlying causes that contribute to female offending and/or offer practical support to those women caught in the criminal justice system to prevent reoffending. Organisations supported through this programme included,
Women’s Support Network
First Steps women’s Centre
Community Focus learning
East Down Rural Community Network
West Belfast Parent Youth Support group
Lisburn & Windsor Women’s Centres
Tinderbox Theatre Company
Volunteer Now Enterprises
Women’s Information NI
Belfast Unemployed Centre
ESC Understanding Through Film
Positive Steps Training
The VSB Foundation also produced a short video telling the story of a young women in custody Blue for a Boy – here
In 2016, to conclude this programme of small grants, the VSB Foundation commissioned research on “The Current Landscape of Support for Women Who Offend in Northern Ireland”.
“The overriding context of the report ………. is that for many women it is their vulnerabilities that lead to a crisis that results in their entry into the criminal justice system and for some ultimately to prison. The disproportionate impact of incarceration on women who offend is well documented as is the significant number of women in the criminal justice system who are or have been the victims of crime.”
The research report is available here.
In 2011 The Owers Review of Prisons laid out 40 recommendations for improvement of prisons. Many of the recommendations called for those working in statutory justice system to work with more closely with the Third Sector. It was recognised that the complex nature of the needs of prisoners and their families were multidimensional and complex and that a holistic response required a joined-up approach across agencies and sectors. It was within this context in 2012 that the VSB Foundation asked the Interaction Institute for Social Change to facilitate an engagement process with key players in the Third Sector to discuss
how they could avail of the improved policy environment for their work. Subsequently the VSB Foundation in late 2105 asked IISC to undertake an assessment the progress which has been made since 2012 by the various organisations who were involved in the original initiative. The assessment was to focus on the actions agreed at the 24th September 2012 Workshop. Additional areas of interest were the degree to which collaboration has taken place, and what impact changes in the funding environment have had on the ability of the organisations involved to respond to the recommendations contained in the 2011 Prison Service Review.
The latest report is available here