Agenda was brought together by a group of trusts, foundations and voluntary sector organisations building on work started with Baroness Corston’s 2007 report into women in the criminal justice system.
Since 2008, a group of funders have been collaborating through the Corston Independent Funders Commission (CIFC) to improve the response to women in contact with the criminal justice system. Primarily focused on community alternatives to custody, the CIFC became interested in broadening its scope away from women already in the criminal justice system to look at a wider group of women and girls facing multiple disadvantage. In partnership with Clinks (which represents the voluntary sector working with offenders), CIFC carried out a consultation with organisations working with vulnerable women and girls.
This consultation revealed a shared recognition that going into custody is just one of a range of negative outcomes for vulnerable women and girls. Many women and girls end up with other poor life trajectories including severe mental health problems, substance misuse issues, homelessness and involvement in prostitution. Too often services that should support them fail to do so, and sometimes actually make bad situations worse.
The consultation showed that there was support to develop an alliance of those with an interest in these issues and Agenda was brought together in 2015 to advocate for change for women and girls at risk.