This is one of the hardest letters I have written since taking up the role of CEO at the Women’s Justice Network. As the Covid-19 virus has evolved over the last few weeks and as we all practise social distancing ourselves and ensure that our families and loved ones are safe, please spare a thought for the impact on the women and girls we walk alongside every day.
We have lost our opportunity to hold our fundraising events that keep our programs going.
Our Healing from Within girls Creativity, Culture and Connection groups have ceased with these girls now becoming extremely isolated and unsupported as a result. Our Mentoring Programs for girls and women entangled in the Criminal Justice System continue to support and virtually walk alongside them as they become isolated within their homes, refuges, rehabilitation centres with some falling through the cracks and living on the streets and finding refuge with unsafe partners.
I am hearing firsthand how women and girls are suffering from anxiety, depression and are feeling as though they are still in prison even though they have completed serving their sentence. It breaks my heart that we have over 30 women and girls who have been referred to WJN to be supported as they have no-one to turn to and we cannot take them on at this time.
Our June 2020 fundraiser and other planned fundraising events will not go ahead due to the Covid-19 virus and the current governments forced social distancing and closure of venue rules.
What this means is that we have a higher than usual demand on our services, staff and our amazing volunteer mentors are staying in touch with 100 women and girls who are being supported over the phone and through virtual means.
Without additional funding being received by the 31 May 2020 our Programs will be severely affected with 50% of our staffing being stood down.
This will mean that less women and girls will be supported, no new women and girls will be able to receive support and women and girls entangled in the criminal justice system will fall through the cracks and will end up back in custody.
I am urging you to donate what you can, as little as $10 can help, circulate this to others, share our story. We need $250,000 to enable us to keep offering support to women and girls through this crisis.
Further support will be needed to support and finalise our On-Line Healing from Within Creatively, Culture and Connection Program for girls in custody and community, we need to continue to provide opportunities for girls and women to feel hopeful about their future.
I know that all over the world people are being impacted by the spread of the Covid-19 Virus and our lives are being changed through the government interventions put in place to keep us all safe, I am pleading with you to show your compassion and give what you can to help WJN to keep its services open and allow us to remove the isolation that women and girls in the criminal justice system are currently experiencing more than ever before. Together we can make a real difference and support women and girls to not go back to prison and to be able to stay safe and healthy during the Covid-19 period and beyond.
Thank you and please share our appeal to others.
Yours in solidarity
Women’s Justice Network