In February 2017 The Disabilities Trust launched a pilot scheme for a Link-worker service at HMP Drake Hall – the first of its kind in a women’s prison. The project offers specialist support to female offenders who have suffered a brain injury. This means they may experience poor memory, lack of concentration, aggression which makes it difficult for them to engage with rehabilitation programmes.
Funded in part by The Pilgrim Trust, the service mirrors the brain injury Linkworker services previously provided by the Disabilities Trust Foundation within male prisons and Young Offender Institutions. The service will deliver direct one-to one support to women with brain injuries and develop partnerships with health, social care, probation, homeless, and drug and alcohol services to ensure each woman has the appropriate support in place on discharge from prison.
Women are screened on admission using Foundation’s Brain Injury Screening Index (BISI) questionnaire and those that are identified as having a brain injury are referred to a specialist link-worker. Prison staff will also be provided with brain injury training and given simple tips – speaking more slowly without distractions to allow information to be processed, suggesting diaries and written reminders to assist with memory problems – to support the women concerned.
This two-year, £107,000 pilot scheme aims to establish whether specialist support following a brain injury, even years after it was sustained, means an individual has a greater chance of engaging with services, integrating with the community and breaking the cycle of re-offending.
Images with kind permission of The Disabilities Trust