Jon Pritchard, Associate Director of Housing and Community Inclusion for Southern Health Foundation Trust was invited with a number of selected guests to meet HRH The Princess of Wales at the official opening of Hope Street, a pioneering residential community run by charity One Small Thing who hope to redesign the justice system for women and their children.
Jon represented the Trust, which is national leader in housing and employment programmes for patients receiving treatment; providing sustainable long-term social support for people struggling with their mental health who may not have the support networks that many people do. The Trust's work and One Small Thing's work have a distinct connection as many women within the justice system also experience mental health issues.
Speaking about his experience of the day, Jon said:
"It was great to be able to talk to the Princess about the importance of mental health and psychological support services working hand-in-hand with such an important and innovative service as Hope Street.
"The opportunity to reduce or stop the multi-generational inequalities that develop as a result of women being sent to prison inappropriately is one we (as a system) simply have to grasp with both hands, and One Small Thing is certainly doing that with Hope Street. Many women are sent to prison simply because they haven’t got stable accommodation at the time of a court hearing (for minor offences such as non-payment of council tax or TV Licence evasion).
Often these crimes are committed in the context of abusive or coercive/controlling relationships that the women feel unable to remove themselves from."