Welcoming Rachel Ozanne - Women in Prison’s new Director of Programmes and Partnerships

Women in Prison is absolutely thrilled to announce that Rachel Ozanne has joined us as our Director of Programmes and Partnerships. Rachel comes to us from Respect where she has been leading systems change and development work following a career working with people affected by multiple disadvantage, starting in frontline roles and working in HMPs Holloway and Downview.

Rachel says: “I'm delighted to be joining Women in Prison in this exciting new role. It's an organisation I've long admired, right back from working alongside practitioners in Holloway, and seeing the passion and commitment to supporting women in the CJS and challenging a system which causes harm. I share that passion and can't wait to get started. I'm particularly excited to work alongside colleagues, partners, and especially women with lived experience to co-create different approaches that challenge and change the current justice system.”

We are thrilled to have Rachel join us as a new director, joining Nicola Drinkwater, our Director of External Affairs and Campaigns as they are forming part of our new leadership team structure. We hope to be able to recruit a Director of Finance and Resources later in the year which would make the full complement, along with my role as CEO and our trustees, of the leadership of Women in Prison.

Celebrating our 40th Anniversary

Women in Prison is so proud of our heritage and history – born out of the frustration and anger of one woman’s experience of the criminal justice system and her desire to change it. We have evolved into an organisation working alongside women in their communities, and fighting nationally against the injustices women face that sweep them into contact with the criminal justice system.

2023 is our 40th anniversary. We are spending this year learning about the impact we have had and most importantly looking ahead to the organisation we need to be for the future. This process has already started involving us asking ourselves difficult questions, like “are we funded in a way that enables us to deliver the community services and support that women want?” and “are we making the right arguments to the right people about what needs to change?”

These processes are always challenging, and asking ourselves difficult questions has already led us to making some difficult decisions. These have also been influenced by the external environment including the cost-of-living crisis and inflation. Despite it being challenging, it is right that we are reflective as we move forward as an organisation.

What should the future look like for women?

From our work over the last 40 years we know that the future needs to be one where women are no longer criminalised for having mental health issues, for being poor, for being made homeless, for experiencing domestic abuse, for being black or queer or different in any way from the gendered norms in society.

I, Rachel, Nicola and the wider leadership of Women in Prison will be working with women with lived experience of the justice system, with our frontline staff and other colleagues across the organisation as well as with our Board to re-look at our vision, mission and values. We have set a strategic direction of travel that ensures that all of our work, from frontline work in the community and prisons to our influencing work, embeds coproduction, equity diversity and inclusion, and offers alternatives for women who are at risk of or are being criminalised.

We are looking forward to working towards our strategic direction and commit to continuing to act with the courage and resilience that led Chris Tchaikovsky and Pat Carlen to set us up 40 years ago. We don’t want to be here in the next 40 years as we know that change can and must happen. And we know we cannot make these changes alone. We invite you to be part of our journey.

If you have any questions, would like to speak to us about our work or get involved please get in touch with me at [email protected]