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Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Willow is a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian. It aims to reduce offending behaviour and health inequalities; to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of women in the criminal justice system; and to increase their access to services and involvement in their local community.


Service users are involved in the design and continuous improvement of the service. Willow works with women who are marginalised within society, many coming from backgrounds of trauma and abuse.


The service helps women to move successfully into recovery and away from previous lifestyles. Willow facilitates effective, comprehensive and better coordinated responses from public services to address the inequalities faced by women in the criminal justice system.


Theme: Health and Social Care

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Work in Willow is trauma – informed, recognising the level and impact of trauma that many women have experienced. Services are designed to ensure that women feel safe and empowered. Women receive a holistic, multi-agency assessment and an individualised plan, included one-to-one key work, practical and emotional support, group work and therapies. Each woman has a full health check as part of the assessment, which includes a sexual health check and screening for post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Willow was evaluated by the Scottish Government  over the course of a year.  The women represented in the data, often have multiple and highly complex needs.


The multi-disciplinary team located at the Willow Centre are working with women who are making significant changes across many areas of their lives.


Analysis of the data suggests the service has been successful in its approach to support women who are at different points of contact with the criminal justice system.


Changes are demonstrable in key areas that research indicates are significant to desistence and recovery. Women appear to be more in control of their lives and their ability to self govern, with an improved sense of agency. There are improvements in women’s mental health, their trauma symptoms, use of substances and problem solving skills. Service providers are better able to engage with the women over time.


To be effective, services have to be delivered in partnership with a range of agencies and co-ordinated at the point of delivery, providing the right service for women at the right time.   They also have to be trauma informed, recognising that most of the women accessing the services have experienced repeated trauma in their lives.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Kirsty Pate

Criminal Justice Sector Manager

City of Edinburgh Council

0131 469 3408

Case study added to site: June 2016

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