Innovation Exchange

One Stop Women's Learning Service (OWLS)


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

The One-Stop Women’s Learning Service (OWLS) was set up in response to a recommendation within the report from the Commission on Women Offenders chaired by Dame Elish Angiolini and published in April 2012. The report recommended the establishment of a Community Justice Centre and endorsed a holistic approach to working with women offenders across services by delivering interventions which address their immediate needs and bring about behaviour change to improve the quality of their lives. A fundamental part of this entails the practical support and guidance provided through the mentoring service, progressing to social support via befriending. This should allow women to build their self confidence and self-esteem and to live more productive and fulfilling lives as valued members of their families and communities.


The OWLS service was proposed by the Council’s Community Safety Service and developed and designed in consultation with NHS Tayside, Drug and Alcohol Services and Housing Services.  OWLS became operational on 2 February 2013 and the design of the service was informed by a survey of women who had been subject to statutory supervision in the community.  A tendering process was also conducted for the mentoring service and Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA) were the successful in their bid for the Contract.  After approximately 6 months mentoring and once a period of stability has been achieved then consideration is given to reducing this support to Befriending.  This is provided by the ‘Facing Change Project’ run by Churches Action for the Homeless (CATH).


The initial client group for OWLS was women subject to Community Payback Orders, those who have served short term prison sentences, and those subject to a supervision Licence after release from custody.  The implementation of OWLS has been planned to address the nationally recognised concern of the ‘revolving door’ of those subject to short term prison sentences and their propensity to re-offend and return to custody.

Theme: Community Safety

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  • Provide physiologically informed environment where women access various services to meet their needs at their own pace. This is achieved through collaborative multi-agency working with staff from statutory and voluntary services who  come to the centre to meet with the women.
  • Lunch clubs, Monday-Wednesday-Friday
  • Social activities to increase confidence
  • Support to attend specific appointments

The Angiolini report clearly stated that the lives of women offenders are characterised by multiple complexities and their potential to offend and re-offend links directly to their chaotic lives and lack of social supports.  The development of OWLS has clearly followed the evidential findings of the report which has included utilising and incorporating women’s feedback about what they needed help and assistance with after being sentenced to a Community Payback Order.


The outcomes OWLS endeavours to demonstrate can be linked to each woman’s perception of their achievement through the Rickter assessment – a supported self-assessment.  These include:


  • Reduce offending and re-offending
  • Reduce and stabilise substance misuse
  • Improve physical health
  • Improve mental well being
  • Improve access to appropriate accommodation
  • Improve employability opportunities
  • Income maximisation and improved financial wellbeing


Current analysis of the Rickter assessment has shown the following results:


  • 90% think they have improved their employability and some have already secured employment
  • 80% think their accommodation has improved or is satisfactory
  • 80% think they are in control of and managing their finances
  • 80% think how they manage their relationships has improved
  • 100% think they have reduced or stopped offending
  • 90% think that their leisure interests have improved either through involvement in group activity or the mentoring service
  • 80% think their consumption of alcohol and/or drugs has reduced or under control
  • 100% think that their health has improved both physical and mental health through direct access to specific services
  • 70% think their independent living skills have improved which relates to their increased self-confidence and self esteem
  • Community Cook It
  • CPR
  • Women have successfully completed Peer Mentoring receiving SVQ, this is a rolling programme.

The service is open Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 3.30pm for women. Staff are available to see women 9am to 5pm or can accommodate those who are unable to access at these times.

Contact details:

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


Lucy Mulvenna

Coordinator, Criminal Justice Service

Perth and Kinross Council

01738 444244

Case study added to site: June 2016

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