Over a brew and a some cake, women who had spend time in Holloway, gathered for our first Women’s Building workshop. In our introductions we realised that some women thought they were coming to a cake baking not art making session! We viewed our facilitators paintings depicting the ‘Closure of Holloway’ and the ‘Gym Tree’ and the drawings depicting the proposed Women’s Building (in the above post).
Our discussions centred around what we’d would like to see in the Women’s Building or on the site. The main concern raised was the need for housing, employment, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, the possibility of an emergency short stay stay hostel of between 6 and 10 beds designed as a first stop for women released from prison who live in London and need signposting for housing and mentoring services. We also discussed the lack of probation approved premises in London, and how far women have to travel (Bedford, Reading, Birmingham) away from London, and whether that could also be considered.
We chatted about stories and how we felt about the prison. Some felt that their prison experience at HMP Holloway had many positive aspects, especially as it’s location meant that they were close to their families and friends. Some felt re-opening the prison would be a good use of the prison, due to the distances women are now held from their families, although on reflection less women in prison was the favored alternative. Others felt that there was so much pain and suffering, and bad history in the prison that they were glad that it was closed, and looked forward to it being flatten. However we felt about the prison, the idea of luxury flats being developed in its place was not welcome. Women discussed their own experiences of being moved on from their local areas, out of London, and felt that closing and moving women on from Holloway, to prisons further out was also linked to this.
We discussed what we could use as a logo to help promote the Women’s Building campaign. The consensus was that we could draw inspiration from the image of the stone Griffins that used to brace the gates of the original building, and that where possible we should promote the campaign in a highly colourful way, implying an inclusive message to all, gender, race, sexuality, religion that this legacy should be positive and forward thinking. We also felt that the new building could be braced by images of the Griffins, a modern representation so that this legacy building has the feeling of a transition from past to future that is hopeful and progressive.
Other ideas that came from the art session was the phrase - ‘Hope for Holloway’ which we felt was a really honest and catchy strapline that we can use. We have ideas for what we would like to see in a short stay hostel as far as room layout is concerned, some additional services such as;
•Health assessment centre with a link up to doctors
•Women’s advice centre
•Education and employment advice services
•Computers and phone lines with access to services
•Advice on housing benefits, housing options and grants
•Drug and alcohol services
More workshops to follow soon, maybe for the next one we can organise cake making after all!
If you have spent time in Holloway and would like to get involved or suggest the next workshop theme, email firstname.lastname@example.org