Connect Programme

With the understanding that women offend for different reasons than men, East Lothian's Justice Social Work's 'Connect Programme' supports women across the county, who have either been involved in offending, or who are at risk of coming into contact with the Police.

The 'Connect' support group focusses on addressing the specific needs of women, utilising a trauma informed approach. This involves emphasising the physical psychological and emotional safety for everyone, and aims to empower individuals to re-establish control of their lives.

After being referred into the 16-week Connect Programme, women attend weekly group sessions currently held in Prestonpans.   Morning sessions explore topics such as good communication, self-esteem, managing stress, understanding emotions and decision making.  In the afternoon it's all about expanding the women's social capital.  This can involve indoor activities such as fitness classes, making crafts or meditation sessions, or getting outdoors, going on walks, spending time with the local ranger service or visits to points of interest in East Lothian and the surrounding areas.

Being able to understand myself helped to make my life easier. 

What benefits does it provide?
For many women, the Connect Programme provides them with space, time-out from daily life, and the opportunity to learn, socialise and engage with others in a safe environment.  The skills they learn, both from the course and each other can help to motivate and influence them to make profound changes about their decisions and actions.

The Connect Programme acts as a stepping stone to support women in their onward journey, as they gain a greater understanding of their own emotions, behaviours and actions.  Following the programme, women are referred onto further courses or support networks to reduce their risk of further contact with the police or courts.

What do attendees have to say? 

Paula, who recently completed her 16 week course comments,

"I found the Connect programme really informative.  It was relaxed, supportive, caring, community focused, and mindful of attendee's experiences.  It was great to learn about self-love/care and especially how to value yourself.

Having attended the course, I have learnt lots of coping mechanisms, self-care, self- worth and self-control.  I've learnt how to focus on what matters.  How my actions have consequences for others but also for myself.  I've also learned about the thoughts, feelings and emotions triangle.  Understanding that thoughts are not always facts, but they can impact our actions and behaviours. Being able to understand myself helped to make my life easier. 

The reinforced learning of completing the sessions twice over really enhanced the learning for me. It was important not to feel rushed, and great to be able to question the learning in a safe space.  It was also a lot of fun too.  There was always a lot of laughter. I would absolutely recommend it.

Making a referral

If you are a professional that wishes to make a referral for someone into the Connect Programme please e-mail or call Ali Lynch on 01620 872499 to find out more information about the initiative. 

Group of women sitting of a mat in the woods enjoying a talk from the countryside rangers.
Image credit:  Community Justice Scotland.