In 2018 Agenda has seen some exciting and significant changes. We became an independent charity, and announced our new board, Chaired by Fiona Mactaggart. We now have 90 member organisations across England and Wales, and our team has also grown: in March, we welcomed our Policy Manager, Jess Southgate, and in September Jemima Olchawski joined us as Chief Executive, taking over from Katharine Sacks-Jones while she is on maternity leave. Here is a roundup of some of our work over the last year.
Women in Mind campaign
- The Women’s Mental Health Taskforce, co-chaired by Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price MP, and Agenda’s Katharine Sacks-Jones published its final report in December. It encourages commissioners, providers and practitioners to promote best practice in their organisations while taking into account women’s individual, gender-specific needs. Read the full report here.
- Our Women in Crisis report on women’s experiences of detention under the Mental Health Act found women’s self-inflicted deaths overtook men’s for the first time in 2015 and did so again in 2016. The report made recommendations aimed at the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, which published its final report in November. We were pleased to see it recommend changes to enable patients to choose who has a say in their care, which we hope will protect women at risk of abusers having a say in their care.
- The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill to reduce restraint, which Agenda has been supporting since 2017, received royal assent and became law in November. In the run up to the Bill’s Third Reading in the House of Commons in July, Agenda published figures showing 32 women died following restraint over a five year period.
- Mind and Agenda launched our women’s mental health peer support programme. The new project is funded by the Tampon Tax Fund and will help increase the provision of peer support for women experiencing, and at risk of, mental health problems, with a particular focus on women facing multiple disadvantage.
- In October we published our discussion paper, Making Places Work for Women, written by the Point People. It looks at place based systems change with a gendered lens, and calls on public sector bodies, agencies and voluntary organisations in local areas to work together better to help improve the lives of the most disadvantaged women.
- Agenda and AVA (Against Violence and Abuse)’s joint Commission on Domestic and/or Sexual Abuse and Multiple Disadvantage has been continuing its work, and will report in the new year.
- In partnership with AVA (Against Violence and Abuse), St Mungo’s, and MEAM, we published Jumping Through Hoops in August, a report which looks at how coordinated responses to multiple disadvantage are meeting the needs of women.
Female Offender Strategy
- In June this year the Ministry of Justice published its long-awaited Female Offender Strategy. Agenda coordinated a letter from Members of the Advisory Board on Female Offenders, calling for better investment to ensure the Strategy meets its aims. Read the open letter here, and the response we received from the Secretary of State here.
This year was Agenda’s busiest in terms of media coverage, with some fantastic pieces written by women with lived experience. Below are some highlights – see here for our full list of media coverage.
- Today I’m telling Westminster why domestic violence survivors like me need better mental health support, Metro, 6th June 2018
- Female deaths after restraint, Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Two, 3rd July 2018 (at 1h41)
- ‘My life felt like torture’: the long-term damage of sexual assault, Refinery29, 11th September 2018
- For society’s most vulnerable women, #MeToo is nothing but a buzzword, Metro, 21st November 2018
- What Women Want From Support Workers, Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, 11th December 2018