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4 Mar 2014

Community Sentences Cut Crime: An Open Day at Anawim

An award-winning project which helps women in the West Midlands to lead crime-free lives is to be celebrated at an open day tomorrow (5 March).

Anawim, in Birmingham, helps women who have been in trouble with the law to turn their lives around in a safe environment, supported by a range of agencies trained to meet their multiple and complex needs.

Each woman referred to Anawim works with a case worker to determine what help she needs and to draw up a programme of interventions aimed at tackling the root causes of her offending.

Interventions offered by the service include financial and debt advice; drug and alcohol support; counselling; help with employment; and support with family issues.

The result is far more effective than prison. Of the women who completed a specified activity order at Anawim last year, less than one per cent went on to offend again.

Anawim’s work has also helped to rebuild families. At least 15 children in care have been returned to their mothers, thanks to the project’s support. A further 10 children have been returned to their mothers after living with family members.

Safeguarding plans which were in place for at least 47 children are no longer necessary, due to Anawim’s support and advocacy at case conferences and reviews.

Last year, Anawim was honoured in the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Community Programmes Awards, which recognise the most effective and innovative crime-cutting schemes in England and Wales.

The project was named runner-up in the women’s award category.

Journalists who attend the open day will be able to speak to women helped by the service, as well as hear presentations by speakers including Bob Jones, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner; entrepreneur Dawn Gibbins; Reverend Alison Levesley, Director of Spirituality at Gorton Monastery; and Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Catryn Yousefi, Programmes Manager at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Well-resourced and well-structured community programmes such as Anawim can challenge and change people for the better, in a way short prison sentences simply can’t. Prison causes damage and disruption to the lives of vulnerable women, most of whom pose no risk to the public. Women with multiple and complex needs who have access to such services will be supported and empowered to take responsibility for themselves and to make positive life changes. Successful programmes such as Anawim help to show that robust community alternatives can continue to achieve many more positive outcomes than prison sentences. I am delighted that Anawim’s valuable and commendable work is recognised by our award.”

Joy Doal, Director of Anawim, said: “Community sentences offer women the chance of rehabilitation in communities where the changes they must achieve actually have to take effect.  Prison cannot do this.  We offer a variety of support including with education, training, employment and substance misuse and referral to a wide range of other agencies.  An individualised package of specialised interventions delivered by skilled workers and designed to address the causes of offending behaviour, with emphasis on building self-esteem, independence and a sense of responsibility, underpins our very low re-offending rate.  There is no one route to rehabilitation – it is different for everyone depending on their needs and the causes of offending in their particular case.  We continue to innovate and develop new ideas and new ways of working so that our performance continues to improve.”

Bob Jones, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Anawim programme recognises that there are many complex reasons why women can be drawn into committing crime. It is an approach which halts a downward spiral and supports people to build more constructive and positive lives. This not only empowers women to regain control over the direction their lives are taking, but changes the future for their families. This is not only good news for the women who take part in the programme and their families. It is helping to reduce crime and strengthen our communities and that is beneficial to us all.”


  • Frances Crook, Chief Executive, Howard League for Penal Reform
  • Joy Doal, Director, Anawim
  • Dr Dawn Gibbins, Entrepreneur
  • Bob Jones, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Reverend Alison Levesley, Director of Spirituality, Gorton Monastery
  • Jackie Stevenson, Deputy Head, Birmingham East Sector, South West Midlands Probation Trust
  • Catryn Yousefi, Programmes Manager, Howard League for Penal Reform
  • Users of the Anawim service

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The Howard League for Penal Reform’s Community Programmes Awards were launched in 2005 as part of the charity’s aim of increasing public and government support for community sentences. More information about the awards.

Further information

Rob Preece
Press Officer
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