Willow highlighted for its excellent service

An Edinburgh project which helps the social, health and welfare needs of women in the criminal justice system has been praised.

The Willow project was held up as an exemplar service in the Commission on Women Offenders report launched this week (17 April).

Willow is a partnership project between the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian and Sacro and supports women by helping to improve their health, wellbeing and safety, enhance their access to services and to reduce offending behaviour.

Peter Gabbitas, Director of Health and Social Care for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "The Willow project is an innovative way of supporting women in the criminal justice system and I'm delighted that its success has been recognised by the Commission on Women Offenders."

Kirsty Pate, Service Manager of Willow said: "We welcome the Commission's report examining the specific needs of women in the justice system in Scotland and the opportunity for women and staff from Willow to contribute to this process.

"We are delighted that the work of Willow has been showcased as an excellent example of the integrated approach it takes which puts women in the criminal justice system and their needs at its centre. We are also grateful that our partnership working has been highlighted.

"We look forward to further developing our services for and with women so that we continue to provide the highest possible standards for women using our service."

Charles Winstanley, Chair, NHS Lothian said: "I am delighted that the excellent work of Willow has been recognised in this way. It demonstrates the important and innovative work that is being done in partnership and I commend all staff involved. It is very much deserved."

Tom Halpin, Sacro's Chief Executive said, "I really welcome the findings of the Commission that recognises the reality for women in Scotland's criminal justice system. I am delighted that the partnership working of Willow is also recognised for the role it plays empowering women, to build their confidence to change their lives. I would pay tribute to our partners for their vision and the Willow staff for their exemplary work in delivering such an important service."

Willow offers a wide range of services to women aged over 18, resident in Edinburgh or returning to Edinburgh from custody. Women attend a group based programme for two days a week for up to six months and also have a key worker.

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