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addressing the mental health needs of women age 18+ in the criminal justice system

Female Photographer


In collaboration with Venture Trust, a Scottish charity, I ran a 9-month personal development/photography programme with women with extremely difficult/traumatic life stories, drug, alcohol and crime issues. This programme included a one-week wilderness experience which was run by the charity.


In weekly meetings, I created a safe space that allowed the women to relax, have fun, learn about photography and also be vulnerable, connect deeply, and share and process traumatic memories. Below the surface of our vastly diverse life experiences and backgrounds, we touched deep common ground.


Over time, each woman's dignity, beauty, talents and strength came to light, and as they felt heard, supported and seen in that light, their self-perception changed. They began to feel happier within and thus started to make positive life choices -  they furthered their education, got back driving licences, found employment, began to build healthy relationships and families and live balanced lives free from crime.

Together we created a movie-like presentation with quotes from our conversations (which I had recorded with everyone's permission) and the photographs they had taken documenting their lives and their positive development over the course of the programme.


The extraordinary power of the presentation and the success of this project was acknowledged by the Scottish Parliament where an event was specifically hosted to present this movie to an invited audience of MP's, journalists and professionals in the criminal justice system. Each of the women spoke in parliament about the life-changing impact of this project. This event impacted on the debate about women's needs in the criminal justice system. 

At the time my main coaching tools were:

1. Love. 2. The presupposition that inside each one of us is a core that is whole, healthy and untouched by anything that happens to us and mistakes we make. I filtered and listened out for exclusively that in each of the women and mirrored it back to them. 3. Homemade cake (German apple and cheese) made with love.

Whilst I have by now added additional tools to my coaching toolbox these three remain the unshaken foundation of my work with women.

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