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In early 2018, Future Projects entered in to partnership with St. Giles Trust on a three year program designed to reduce female offending in Norfolk, WONDER+.

Standing for Women Of Norfolk, Diversion, Engagement and Rehabilitation, the program has grown out of a one year pilot delivered by the Sue Lambert Trust, Julian Support and Magdalen Group.

The initial program was created in response to a growing awareness that support services for offenders, or those at risk of offending, are almost entirely based on evidence and data from male cases. Yet, female offenders typically have vastly more complicated needs around offending than men and a large proportion of them are themselves victims of crime or vulnerable.

It became increasingly clear to those working with female offenders that a new provision was required, one dedicated to supporting women to address the complex needs and problems which often lead to offending.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk was keen to establish such a provision, so following the initial pilot, additional funding was secured from the Ministry of Justice, along with input from the Community Rehabilitation Company and Public Health to expand the work across all of Norfolk.

This new, larger piece of work was set up by St. Giles Trust and Future Projects on a three year basis and rebranded as WONDER+. This program now supports any woman over the age of 18 with a history of offending, currently offending or at risk of offending. The program takes referrals from Police Investigation Centres, Early Help hubs, social work agencies, charities and even self-referrals from women.

The program is based on one to one support, usually in a location local to the client, with no limit on the period of support provided. Link workers and clients work together to get a full picture of the woman’s situation, needs, and challenges, before establishing a support plan to help them find their way through to a positive outcome which diverts them from risk of re-offending.

London-based charity St. Giles Trust partnered with Future Projects for the program to benefit from our knowledge of the local landscape and our history of successfully delivering projects with them. For our contribution to the project we employed Miranda Webb as Wonder+ Coordinator; Miranda receives every referral into the service, ensures that women are contacted within 48 hours and receive immediate support.

Since Miranda’s employment a year ago, the project has received 369 referrals. Of those it has engaged with 156 women, an impressive 91% of whom have reported that since engaging with WONDER+ they have improved how they feel about managing their wellbeing.

Last week, on the first anniversary of WONDER+, The Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Lorne Green, visited the Baseline Centre to check in on the progress of the project. He was delighted with the results so far and believes it should be pushed and promoted even further, to be able to reach more women who would benefit from the service and ultimately have a substantial impact in reducing female offending in Norfolk.