The Princess of Wales visited Southampton today, where she opened Home Street.
Set up by One Small Thing, it is a pioneering family-friendly residential community that is taking a new approach to supporting women and children in the justice system – the first in the UK to role out these facilities.
Hope Street offers an alternative for women who would otherwise be imprisoned unnecessarily due to a lack of safe accommodation or concerns around their wellbeing. This alternative community for women allows children to remain with their mothers in a home environment with constant support.
During her visit, the Princess was given a tour of the new facility by Lady Edwina Grosvenor, Founder of One Small Thing. Edwina is the daughter of the late Duke of Westminster, and sister to the current Duke; the Grosvenors carry historic ties to the Royal Family.
The Royal heard how the new facility will offer different types of support to residents, meeting staff, supporters and those who have spearheaded the programme over the past six years. It is hoped that Hope Street will act as a blueprint to be scaled across the country.
Speaking to users of the centre, Catherine said: ‘This is such an inspirational place.’
The pilot-scheme aims to show how a supportive approach towards women in the justice system can have a life-changing impact and improve outcomes for society, which of course ties in to the Princess’ work on early years and mental health. Incarceration is an example of a rare, but no less challenging, circumstance a family can find themselves in, which has a huge impact on mental health.
In the courtyard facilities of the Centre, Catherine placed a handwritten message of support on a tree that read: ‘I see you and I am with you. Good luck in all that lies ahead. Catherine.’
Speaking in the courtyard, Lady Edwina Grosvenor said: ‘There is a different way that we can deal with women and children in the justice system in this country. I wanted to build something and prove that we could do it differently by actually building it.’
Earlier this year, The Princess of Wales launched Shaping Us to highlight the importance of a child’s first five years and how we should be focusing on building a supportive, nurturing world around children.
The campaign also highlights how as a society we must support those caring for children to make a healthier generation in the future in terms of mental health.