We work in a whole system approach, collaborating with other statutory and non statutory providers, to deliver a coordinated and gendered response, improving access to services, enabling consistency and continuity of support throughout her journey. In doing this, women achieve increased safety, improved confidence, self-esteem and life skills.
The Minerva model
Women are offered holistic, consistent support by a dedicated Minerva Keyworker meeting their individual needs over a longer period of time, empowering them to break the cycle of re-offending. Our approach is based on five principles of support.
Consistent, unconditional positive regard for the women we support
The foundation of Advance’s Minerva programme is the relationship between keyworkers and the women they support. This in turn is founded on the keyworkers’ unconditional positive regard for their clients. Keyworkers’ communication with women consistently focuses on their strengths and achievements, aiming to build their self-esteem and encourage them to care for themselves. This may be regarded as the professional equivalent of a close, positive family relationship or friendship. With histories of poverty, trauma and abuse that often go back to early childhood, many women have never experienced such a relationship before and the effect can be transformative.
Persistent communication and support
Keyworkers communicate frequently with the women they support and adapt their communication style to suit the woman’s circumstances. They will always offer regular, face to face contact with women at Advance’s Women’s Centres. For women who are not managing to attend regular appointments, keyworkers will keep in close, regular communication by phone or text, according to the woman’s preferences, in addition to the face-to-face support. Keyworkers will not give up unless the client states that she no longer wants support. Even in that event it will be made clear to the woman that she is welcome to selfrefer in future. If she does so, her case will be re-opened.
Substantial practical help
Minerva keyworkers offer significant, proactive practical help to the women they support. This includes supporting them to complete applications for housing benefits and grants for household items and chasing these up; copying supporting documents; providing food bank vouchers and donated items for mothers and their children; making referrals for refuges; linking clients with IDVAs; arranging appointments with GPs or social care professionals as needed, and attending with the client if requested; arranging therapeutic one-to-one support; inviting the client to attend groups at the women’s centre; and advocating and following up with agencies on the client’s behalf.
Through groups at Advance’s women’s centres and the one-to-one peer mentor service, women can experience the relief of speaking to someone who has been through something similar, realising that they are not alone.
Determined advocacy and communication with other agencies
A major part of the keyworker’s role is to communicate with other agencies that are already engaged with the client or should be, to seek and chase up support, and to help other agencies understand the client’s circumstances.
This may include, for example:
- Contacting mental health services who have closed a client’s case due to her non-attendance at appointments.
- Following up a decision by the local authority that her client is not in priority need of housing.
- Contacting social services to share information about the support being provided to her client and help the social worker to reach an informed decision about any intervention with the children.
Our services provided to women and young women
Women are offered holistic, consistent support, meeting their individual needs over a longer period of time, empowering them to break the cycle of re-offending and preventing the breakdown of families. Women can refer themselves to our services, as well as be referred by the police, probation, statutory agencies and other voluntary organisations.
Our support to women and young women is based on a whole-system and trauma-informed approach and we provide:
for women subject to probation supervision, through individual appointments in the community with specialist Minerva keyworkers, focusing on empowerment, providing support to recover from the trauma and preventing re-offending.
specific to each woman that addresses all her needs and based on the pathways to offending. We provide one-to-one counselling, mentoring and group-work programs focusing on mental health and well-being, domestic abuse and other forms of abuse, problematic substance use issues, children and families, employability and finances, building networks, empowering women to access support for their needs and break the cycle of re-offending.
accessing local authority services for help, such as children’s services, housing, mental health services. We work in a coordinated community response with statutory agencies to provide an improved response to women involved in the criminal justice system.
aged 15-24, in order to improve engagement and access to support of statutory and other services, for this harder to reach group that have often experienced trauma and abuse themselves. A support worker might follow up a decision by the local authority that her client is not in priority need of housing. She may write to the housing department asking for the reasons and underlying the decision and escalating this if those reasons are not forthcoming, contacting social services to share information about the support being provided to her client and help the social worker to reach an informed decision about any intervention with the children.
in a safe environment where women can address their needs in the way that they want. In addition to our West London centre and North London centre, this year we opened a new centre in East London, as well as providing support from local hubs across London and the East of England, to support women in their communities in a safe women-only space.
for women involved in the criminal justice system who, often, are or become homeless, in order to improve the response and access to support by statutory services and organisations.