Lifeline for vulnerable women gets funding

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SOME of the most vulnerable women in society who are attempting to turn their back on a life of crime while living in rural Yorkshire have been given new hope after a pioneering initiative has secured vital funding.

The Catalyst Project was launched in Hambleton and Richmondshire to provide key support services specifically tailored to women who are on probation, many of whom have endured domestic violence and mental health issues.

The scheme, one of the first in the country to be targeted solely at women, has secured funding to continue in the new financial year. The project’s manager, Annette Greenwood, told the Yorkshire Post there had been grave concerns the work could be brought to a halt if cash was not found amid the swingeing public sector cutbacks. But a total of £13,500 has been secured from the district councils covering Hambleton and Richmondshire, the Probation Service and the Yorkshire-based charity, The Brelms Trust.

Mrs Greenwood is a coach and mentor who has worked with vulnerable women extensively during the past seven years, including two years with women due to be released from Askham Grange Open Prison in Yorkshire.

She said: “The Catalyst Project is a means of ensuring women are able to reintegrate into society. It is about breaking down the stigmas of having a conviction, while also helping them find work and get their lives back on track.”

A pilot project was launched in 2011 to provide advice on health, finance, debt management, work skills, confidence building and positive parenting. The scheme is currently supporting six women and it is hoped the numbers will rise to 10 in the new financial year. It is estimated there are on average 25 women on probation across Hambleton and Richmondshire at any given time. While the numbers are relatively small, Mrs Greenwood stressed the women often feel increasingly isolated in the deeply rural districts.