Suzy Van Rooyen, CEO of C2C, talks about the successful Breakthrough Project and the partnership between the Nene Valley Christian Family Refuge (NVCFR), C2C and BeNCH to support women service users.
The partnership is based in Northamptonshire and supports the positive work with women service users. The Breakthrough Project is made up of C2C and Nene Valley Refuge working in partnership to deliver Women’s Specified Activity Requirements (WSARs) on behalf of BeNCH CRC.
As a community sentence, the WSAR is designed to address issues faced by women to reduce reoffending rates. This intervention is often used as an alternative to a custodial sentence, giving women an opportunity to address real life issues with intensive support from The Breakthrough Project. It is usually in the form of 10 x 1:1 sessions with a trained key worker.
The Breakthrough project offers a flexible, creative and holistic approach giving each woman the best possible opportunity of engaging and sustaining positive change by looking at key areas of need such as accommodation and drugs/alcohol.
How do we work?
Suzy explains “as we work through the different areas of need, we aim to increase self esteem and resilience. It’s important that we equip women to work through their needs. We are there journeying with women through their Order, not carrying them through”. With C2C’s experience in the criminal justice system and NVCFR’s expertise in working with vulnerable women and being able to offer women-only premises, we provide an
excellent facility for delivery of WSARs.
The project is based in a secure women (and children) only centre within Northampton town centre. It has comfortable interview rooms, group work / meeting rooms and an equipped nursery. Appointments can also be delivered in the community countywide to suit the needs of the individual. There is a crèche facility for children, whilst mum is meeting her Probation Officer, Breakthrough Support worker or attending a programmes. Women are also able to access onsite debt advice, as well as domestic abuse specialist support. The Breakthrough Project link women in with other locally based services that will benefit them on an ongoing basis, including long term mentoring and domestic abuse support.
Since the project began in August 2013, The Breakthrough Team have worked with 110 women on Community Orders with a successful completion rate of 83% and a reduction in reoffending of 75% within the first year after the Court Order. The success of this project is largely due to excellent working relationships between BeNCH staff and the Breakthrough Project’s Support Workers. Suzy continues “ we appreciate the willingness of Probation to embrace the Community and Voluntary Sector. We have a great partnership and the good
relationship makes it work”.
A case study
Julie was referred to the project with a history of domestic abuse issues and long term drug misuse. Her children were in the care system and we identified that support was needed in a number of areas which included her meaningful use of time, debt management and housing difficulties.
The Breakthrough Support Worker made calls alongside Julie to address benefit issues and completed the forms
needed. A payment plan was set up to pay outstanding court fines. Julie was referred to the in-house Freedom
Program for support with domestic abuse needs and to our Debt Advisor where a Debt Relief Order was put in place and housing arrears addressed. A referral for parenting classes was also completed and support was given to help Julie access a dentist.
As the work progressed, Julie felt more in control and ready to start looking for work. We liaised with BeNCH’s
Employment, Training and Education staff to help with her CV. By the end of the Order, Julie’s initial issues had improved positively and she was ready to start looking for work.
A big thank you
Senior Probation Officer from BeNCH, Denise Lansberry, said “I am very proud of the service we offer female service users in Northants. These woman are often vulnerable and generally have complex needs. A combination of good probation practice and interagency liaison is key to our success. Women’s needs are addressed well by the combination of the women’s champions from BeNCH and Breakthrough staff who do an amazing job. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you for the effort and dedication of our Women’s champions, who work hard to engage with these, often hard to reach, service users.”