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New alliance launched to improve vulnerable women and girls’ life chances

A new alliance will tackle the increasing number of women and girls experiencing inequality, violence, abuse and trauma.  The Alliance for Women and Girls – known as AGENDA – will include voluntary organisations, funders, individuals and other interested parties. Its aim is to stimulate change in the way statutory services respond to women and girls who have experienced multiple difficulties, and thus improve their life chances.

 

The Alliance marks a departure from looking at women from the perspective of a specific issue (e.g. criminal justice, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, mental ill-health etc). It will instead focus on effective responses to the triumvirate of social inequality, violence, abuse and gender expectations that is the root cause of many problems in adolescence and adulthood.

 

Baroness Lola Young (pictured) will chair the new Alliance Steering Group. A member of the House of Lords since 2004, Baroness Young of Hornsey is an Independent Cross Bench peer and has been involved in campaigns criminalising and combating modern forms of enslavement, and improving the experiences of care leavers and children in care. She also chaired a recent review into how outcomes for young Black and Muslim male offenders could be improved. The Alliance’s inaugural Director, Katherine Sacks-Jones, (previously Head of Policy and Campaigns at Crisis), starts work today and, together with Baroness Young and the Alliance’s expert steering group, will widen the Alliance’s constituency and shape a manifesto to achieve its goals.

 

Commenting on the launch of AGENDA Baroness Young said: “I’m delighted and excited to be chairing this very timely Alliance. Many of us have been concerned about the lack of change since Baroness Corston made her recommendations for women in the criminal justice system 8 years ago. To ensure the needs of vulnerable women and young girls are kept high on the political agenda at a cross-departmental level, a collective response is absolutely crucial.   “Addressing the issue by reframing it and looking at the whole woman/girl, rather than as the responsibility or ‘problem’ of an individual service makes complete sense.  The organisational and structural constraints of working with individual departments are abundantly clear. An overhaul of the system that brings a whole new approach, one that allows shared action to flourish, will re-energise and lift the sector out of a system that currently appears to be trapped by its own processes.”

 

The Alliance has its roots in Baroness Corston’s 2007 review of women in the criminal justice system. That review urged a holistic approach to women, for who contact with the CJS is frequently culminating in a constellation of problems. The Alliance seeks changes that will ensure such issues are addressed at a much earlier stage enabling girls and women to fulfil their potential.  The Alliance has backing from a group of funders – Barrow Cadbury Trust, Lankelly Chase Foundation, Monument Trust and Pilgrim Trust – for an initial period of three years and will be based at the Young Foundation’s offices in London’s Bethnal Green.