Call for bigger facility for women's services at former Holloway prison

Niki Gibbs in front of artwork by Erika Flowers and Echoes of Holloway Prison

Niki Gibbs in front of artwork by Erika Flowers and Echoes of Holloway Prison - Credit: CP4H

Young people are being encouraged to have a say on plans for a building providing support services for women on the Holloway Prison redevelopment site.

The Make Space for Women competition is inviting young people to submit a story, poem or piece of artwork that explains or visualises why women need space.

The council last week agreed that campaign group Community Plan for Holloway (CP4H) should hold workshops on the competition in schools.

The deadline for entries has been extended from 21 March until 18 April.

Holloway Prison was the largest women’s prison in western Europe until its closure in 2016. It was bought by Peabody housing association in 2019.

Debbie Humphry, CP4H’s community engagement organiser, said the group does not feel Peabody is offering enough space for the women’s building “to be able to provide the vision that everybody's been fighting for”.

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Peabody is currently offering around 1,200 square metres. CP4H said the building will need 4,000-6,000 square metres. 

School pupils in Islington and Camden, and young people aged 17-25 can enter the competition.

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With the women’s building not due to be finished for five years, “young women need to tell us what's needed in the future,” Humphry said.

Original designs of the women’s building at the former Holloway Prison by Niki Gibbs

Original designs of the women’s building at the former Holloway Prison by Niki Gibbs - Credit: Niki Gibbs

Niki Gibbs, an artist and member of CP4H’s board of directors, will be one of seven judges and said she will be “looking for imaginative ideas".

"What is city living going to look like in 100 years time when this building is still going to be there?” she said, adding that everybody is invited to give ideas.

“We're calling it a 'women's building' now, but it might not even have that name," she said. "The women's building is for women, but it's for everybody as well.”

A spokesperson for Peabody said: “The women’s building is an exciting and important part of the redevelopment of Holloway Prison.

"We have been pleased to work with local groups and Islington Council to develop the designs for what we believe, at over 1,200sq m, would be one of the biggest community facilities in the borough and a fitting legacy to the site’s history.”

The Closure of Holloway Prison

The Closure of Holloway Prison - Credit: Erika Flowers

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