PACT’s Alana House picks up prestigious national award

Alana House Women's Community Project has received a prestigious national award for its work reducing crime and transforming women's lives for the better.

The Reading-based project has won the Howard League for Penal Reform Community Award in the women category for its innovative partnership Enrich Programme. It is the second time Alana House has received this national honour, gaining the same award in 2014 in recognition of the positive impact it has on the women it supports and their wider communities.

Alana House, which is run by Parents And Children Together (PACT), supports vulnerable women by empowering them to take control of their lives, make informed decisions and improve their life chances. In 2016, 190 women accessed Alana House in Reading and its satellite service in West Berkshire.

Its Enrich Programme was launched last October in partnership with Thames Valley Police, IRiS and Reading Borough Council's Troubled Families service to work with a small cohort of female low-level offenders who want to make positive changes in their lives and improve outcomes for them and their families, access support in their communities and reduce their call upon the police and other emergency services. It does this by working in partnership and providing targeted, holistic interventions including one-to-one support, group workshops, outreach, access to training, volunteering and employment opportunities, counselling, and a therapeutic PhotoVoice photography course and exhibition.

In its first six months 100 per cent of women on the programme reported having increased self-esteem and self-confidence. The Howard League for Penal Reform is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. Its annual national awards aim to recognise the country's most successful community projects encouraging desistance from crime. 

Catryn Yousefi, Programmes Manager at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "Our Community Awards celebrate the success of projects that guide people away from crime and make us all safer. Only the very best schemes in the UK are honoured each year and, once again, we were delighted to receive so many high-quality nominations."

Jan Fishwick OBE, Chief Executive of PACT, said: "We are thrilled and honoured to receive this award which is very well-deserved by all involved in the Enrich Programme, not least by the very courageous women who decide to turn their lives around, with the support of the project."

Superintendent Stan Gilmour, Local Policing Area Commander for Reading, said: “Thames Valley Police is committed to working with our partners to reduce harm and helping our communities thrive. This programme is a wonderful example of how this approach can improve lives. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate PACT's Alana House on receiving this prestigious award."

Cllr Jan Gavin, Reading's Lead Councillor for Children's Services, said: "I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the Enrich Programme for receiving this national award. It is well-deserved recognition for the partnership work which has helped bring about positive change to the lives of women in need of support in Reading."

Simi Warah, Service Manager at IRiS Reading, added: "IRiS are happy to have been involved with Enrich from the outset. The increased partnership approach, resulting in more intensive support for the women involved, makes it a fantastic project and we will continue to champion it."