What is the Women’s Building?

We are pleased to present a proposal for the construction of a women’s building in the heart of Islington, designed to provide essential services and facilities for the community. The women’s building will be a cornerstone of support and empowerment for all residents, offering a range of services and amenities to meet diverse needs.

The women’s building will consist of [X] floors, each dedicated to specific services and programs tailored to the community’s requirements. These services will include [X], [X], and [X], providing comprehensive support for women and families in need.

Additionally, the building will feature essential facilities such as a cafeteria, bathrooms, a main hall for events and gatherings, and other communal spaces to foster community engagement and collaboration.

Strategically located between [Building X] and [Building X], the women’s building will have its own garden, providing a tranquil outdoor space for relaxation and reflection. Access to the building will be open to all Islington residents, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for everyone in the community.

The management of the women’s building will be overseen by an experienced operator, committed to delivering high-quality services and programs. Embracing a collaborative approach, the operator will work closely with stakeholders and community members to ensure that the building operates efficiently and effectively.

Furthermore, the management scheme will adhere to [X] principles, promoting transparency, accountability, and community participation in decision-making processes.

Background for the Women’s Building
Why a Women’s Building?

In the busy and dense borough of Islington, Holloway Prison wasn’t just a place where women were incarcerated. It also offered important help and services. Without it, there would be a big gap in Islington and the nearby parts of London.

Holloway Prison provided a range of services aimed at supporting women’s needs, particularly those who were incarcerated or had been involved with the criminal justice system. These services included:

  • Healthcare: Holloway offered medical and mental health services to address the physical and psychological well-being of its inmates.
  • Education and Training: Programs were available to help women gain educational qualifications or acquire vocational skills, preparing them for life beyond prison.
  • Counselling and Support: Women in Holloway could access counselling and support services to address issues such as substance abuse, trauma, and family matters.
  • Rehabilitation Programs: Various rehabilitation programs aimed to help women address the underlying factors contributing to their involvement in crime, facilitating their reintegration into society upon release.
  • Legal Assistance: Legal aid services were provided to assist women in navigating legal proceedings, understanding their rights, and accessing justice.
  • Parenting Support: Holloway offered support programs for mothers, including parenting classes and opportunities for maintaining relationships with their children during their incarceration.
  • Reintegration Support: Upon release, women could access assistance with finding housing, employment, and community support networks to facilitate their successful reintegration into society.

These services aimed to address the complex needs of women involved with the criminal justice system, promoting rehabilitation, empowerment, and opportunities for positive change.

The policy framework for the Women Building was set out in LBI’s  Supplementary Planning Document, which acknowledges its history and identifies the need for a Women’s Building:

“Given the services and support networks that operated from the site, there would be a shortfall in Islington/north-east London if this is not re-provided. The continued presence of a base for women’s services, including female offender services, should therefore be provided as part of any future development proposals for the site in order to ensure equivalent levels of provision and access.”

S106 Requirement

As secured under the s106, the purpose of the Women’s Building is to provide a safe space to:

  • Support and provide rehabilitation services to women with experience of the criminal justice system;
  • For women to access support services and other services; and
  • Any other uses that are consistent with the approved Feasibility and Commissioning Plan
Prison History

Situated in the heart of Holloway, London, Holloway Prison is a powerful symbol of women’s imprisonment. Its story is closely tied to the challenges and victories of women over time. Starting as a prison for both men and women, it later became a place exclusively for women. Throughout its history, Holloway has seen many changes in society and has reflected the strength and resilience of women.

In tracing the timeline of Holloway’s female history, we uncover a narrative full of resilience, activism, and transformation. From the suffragette movement to calls for reform, Holloway stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of women behind bars, shaping the course of history with each passing day.

  • 1852: Holloway Prison is established, initially as a mixed-sex institution primarily housing debtors.
  • 1877: Holloway transitions into the hands of the government, expanding its role in the penal system and shaping the destinies of countless women within its walls.
  • 1895-1897: The renowned writer and playwright Oscar Wilde spends two years in Holloway Prison after being convicted of gross indecency. His time behind bars serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in Victorian society.
  • 1902: Holloway evolves into a prison exclusively for women, becoming one of Europe’s largest female prisons.
  • 1903-1913: The suffragette movement leaves a profound impact on Holloway as activists like Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison are imprisoned there, echoing defiance against an unjust system.
  • 1922: The introduction of the “Cat and Mouse Act” adds complexity to Holloway’s narrative, as suffragettes engage in hunger strikes and cycles of release and re-arrest.
  • 1927: Mary Size, deputy mayor of Holloway, begins a program of reforms focused on redemptive work rather than punishment, initiating a shift in the prison’s approach to rehabilitation.
  • World War II (1939-1945): Holloway becomes a crucible of activism and dissent during the war years, with women suspected of espionage finding themselves within its walls.
  • 1955: The execution of Ruth Ellis in Holloway underscores the gravity of its role in the administration of justice.
  • 1960s-1980s: Holloway becomes a focal point for calls for reform, with inmates advocating for better conditions and fair treatment.
  • 1970-1983: Holloway undergoes reconstruction, reflecting broader changes in penal practices and infrastructure needs within the prison system.
  • 2001: The Chief Inspector of Prisons highlights Holloway’s shortcomings, prompting calls for reforms to address issues like overcrowding and mental health.
  • 2016: Holloway Prison closes its doors, marking the end of its role as a female incarceration facility.
  • 2017: Sisters Uncut, an activist group, occupies the visitor center of Holloway Prison, drawing attention to issues related to women’s rights and the criminal justice system.

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