Good News Story: Person-Shaped Support for Sarah by the Women’s Turnaround Team during COVID-19



3SC contract manage Women’s Turnaround who support female offenders in Merseyside, on behalf of Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC).


There are various factors that can increase somebody’s chances of offending and the team at Women’s Turnaround offer completely open-minded support, addressing the root cause. This can include courses on managing mental health and wellbeing, gaining new practical and emotional skills and addressing distressing experiences like domestic abuse. During COVID-19, group face-to-face sessions have had to change to individual one-to-one sessions over the phone. This new support process has worked wonders with ‘Sarah’ and, after struggling to engage with the service in the past, she’s now gaining so much and learning new ways to really turn her life around.


Sarah has been referred into the Women’s Turnaround service three times for offences over the past three years. She has received orders from the courts, managed by Merseyside CRC, to attend Women’s Turnaround sessions to look at the reasons for her offending behaviours. The team support women through group sessions, looking at areas like: managing emotions, substance misuse, domestic abuse, gaining new practical skills and employability skills, strengthening family ties and so much more. This mixed approach supports women to find solutions that really work for them, to address any experiences that have led to the offence and to explore their attitudes, thinking and behaviours. This means that women can develop whilst reducing their likelihood of reoffending.


Sarah’s previous engagement with Merseyside CRC and Women’s Turnaround was sporadic. When she did come to sessions she didn’t engage so the team found it difficult to form a relationship with her and support her effectively because of this.
Due to poor engagement Sarah ended up ‘in breach’ with her probation order. This meant the courts weren’t satisfied that she’d shown enough commitment to rehabilitate. Sarah had to go back to court because she didn’t complete her RAR (Rehabilitation Activity Requirements) days and missed meetings that she had with Merseyside CRC.


Sarah was referred back into Women’s Turnaround on 3rd April 2020 for her current offence. This was during COVID-19 and lockdown so support was happening remotely and in a different way than before. Hannah, one of the Women’s Turnaround project workers, called Sarah on 8th April 2020 and completed an initial assessment with her over the phone. Sarah was joined by her mum which was an approach which seemed to work well for Sarah. The team witnessed Sarah being a lot more positive than before during the remote sessions and she opened up about her mental health and emotional struggles. This was highlighted as a root cause of her offending behaviours. The team agreed that the ‘Understanding your emotions’ course could really benefit Sarah.


Sarah engaged really positively and with her mum as support, appeared to be very interested in what was being talked about and shared some good examples of her own experiences. She was very happy to open-up and offer her own personal challenges as points of discussion. The one-to-one remote session became a mini group using speakerphone. Sarah and Hannah agreed that the ongoing support of Sarah’s mum was key, and she was able to help Sarah as she worked through the course.


This supported both women and meant that Hannah could address family issues too. Throughout the course this became the norm and sessions were delivered on a weekly basis.


Sarah’s always very open and confident in the sessions. She says that she now enjoys the course and feels like she gets a lot from it. Sarah says that she takes note of what is being discussed and attempts to put this into practice in her life and always gives glowing feedback on the session and how she’s learnt to manage her emotions. Sarah has also struggled with substance abuse in the past but, with support, has been making great strides in that area as well.


Sarah now has only one session of the course left before completing (along with her mum). She has not missed one session and has proved that even as intervention methods and support approaches have had to adjust completely, a positive impact can be made to someone’s life. Sarah is focussed and is learning with every new session. It’s hoped that with this continued support in a way that really works for her, her risk of reoffending will be significantly reduced.


Sarah says:


“No one is a patch on Hannah, she’s worked miracles getting me through a ten-week course… meeting her was good for me and made me more confident.”


Gareth Snaith, Contract Performance Manager, 3SC