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Charity’s concerns about ‘lack of refuge’ for abuse victims in Holloway prison site Women’s Building

PUBLISHED: 12:21 01 September 2020

The Holloway Prison site from a neighbouring rooftop. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Holloway Prison site from a neighbouring rooftop. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A therapy charity is concerned that the proposed Women’s Building on the former Holloway Prison site may not include a refuge for the victims of domestic violence.

The former Holloway Prison site. Picture: PAThe former Holloway Prison site. Picture: PA

Holloway United Therapies (HUT), which provides specialist counselling for women involved in the criminal justice system, has spoken out about the plans for a women’s centre on the development site.

The centre aims to continue the legacy of the former women’s prison after the site was sold to developer Peabody by the Ministry of Justice in 2019.

READ MORE: Sisters Uncut criticise Peabody’s ‘lack of transparency’ over women’s centre plans for former Holloway prison site

READ MORE: Consultation on former Holloway Prison site now open

A draft brief of the centre published by Islington Council in June lists functions of the proposed rooms, including a large hall for productions, conferences or exhibitions and a range of smaller rooms for one-to-one meetings.

Sophie Benedict, co-founder and director of HUT, said she is “worried” that “at this stage there is no women’s refuge, or temporary accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence on their initial plans”.

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“Why does this disturb me? Quite simply, domestic abuse is a major driver of women’s offending,” she said. “According to the Prison Reform Trust, around half of women in prison report having been victims of domestic violence.”

Sophie is also a member of the Women’s Building Working Group, part of the Community Plan For Holloway campaign.

A spokesperson from Peabody said it has been “working closely with community groups and stakeholders” since autumn 2019: “Final decisions on the services provided in the building will made by Islington Council, informed by their community engagement and public consultation.”

A spokesperson from the authority said: “The draft brief refers to the need to provide rooms for counselling services, and states that the building should be able to accommodate services for people experiencing domestic violence as well as a broad range of other support services for women more generally.

“We are passionate about the Women’s Building and are determined to ensure that it provides much-needed benefits to vulnerable women in the borough and beyond.”

They said it will finalise the brief after it has “heard everyone’s views”.

View the draft at tinyurl.com/y3hpa4ot and comment by emailing Linda.Aitken@islington.gov.uk.


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