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A women’s building for Holloway

by Maureen Mansfield, Women’s Resource Centre.

Women’s Building in New York is being developed following the closure of Bayview Women’s Prison. We have a similar potential here in London right now, and a momentum and support we could galvanise on. We are building a coalition of women’s sector organisations and supporters to call for a Women’s Building on the site of Holloway prison.

In partnership with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies project, A Community Plan for Holloway, Women’s Resource Centre held a roundtable meeting bringing together relevant women’s sector organisations to discuss the closure of HMP Holloway and the potential opportunities.

The meeting included organisations that had been established to support women in Holloway, providing decades of services and adding millions of pounds of additional resources to the prisons functioning. We also had local women’s organisations based in Islington that support women locally, including those who had been in the prison. Holloway’s location meant that there was so many organisations bringing their support inside the walls, and integrating their services into the life of the prison.

Many of those present described difficulties they are facing keeping their services open in Islington. The rising costs of rent, the challenges in finding suitable places for women’s only services that offer appropriate space for their trauma informed approach.

Some women’s sector organisation that have delivered services in Islington for over 30 years are being forced to move out of the borough due to rising costs. The organisations that provided support in Holloway have faced additional costs as they attempt to replicate provision in HMP Downview.

There was a strong and coherent desire that the opportunity to make meaning of the site as a former women’s prison, as a historic location in the history of women’s rights, and as the foundations of some of the organisations involved be embraced.  Ultimately the Women’s Building would develop a way to become more self-sustaining than the current reliance on short term, precarious local and government funding.

The Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) is a leading national umbrella organisation for the women’s sector in the UK, working towards linking all aspects of the women’s movement. Many of the Women’s Resource Centre members are small local specialist women’s organisations that strive to give voice to the most marginalised and disadvantaged women.

Maureen Mansfield is a Partnership Service Manager at the Women’s Resource Centre. For more information please contact maureen@wrc.org.uk

More information on the WRC and to sign up for more details.


Women’s Building in New York is being developed following the closure of Bayview Women’s Prison. We have a similar potential here in London right now, and a momentum and support we could galvanise on. We are building a coalition of women’s sector organisations and supporters to call for a Women’s Building on the site of Holloway prison.

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