For young women who have been to prison to know their worth and be restored to their communities.
To provide a safe space for young women in prison and the community to explore who they are, who they want to be and to realise the power they have to change their lives.
We achieve this through the power of positive relationship, innovative education and compassionate, holistic support.
Essence are a faith based organisation. Our Christian faith inspires us in the work we do, it shapes our values as a project and guides the way we interact with the women we work with - who are from all faiths or none.
These are the values that make up the foundation of our work:
Everyone is different and everyone is unique. We aim to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual we work with. We don’t try to get our participants to fit into a mould but make sure our interventions are flexible and can be adapted to suit each individual, so each person can flourish in their own way.
We recognise that every woman we work with is on a journey and we are just one part of that journey. Journeys of long-lasting change take time, everyone moves at a different pace and people will back-track sometimes. With this in mind we try to characterise our work with qualities of patience and grace – being willing to give people the chance to start over and not giving up on them.
We believe that God loves every person equally no matter who they are or what they’ve done. Because of the disproportionate levels of rejection and suffering women in prison have experienced, compassion is a vital component to our work; to recognise past suffering and provide a supportive environment to move forward positively from it.
We believe restoration is at the heart of the Christian faith and who God is. Our hope is that our work will reflect this by beginning to repair some of the damage done in the lives of so many of these women. We want to help women in prison to discover their value, worth and talent so that they may feel restored in the way they view themselves and others.
True restoration requires work on all sides and so it is also our hope to see society begin to grow in their understanding of women and men in prison. We believe that understanding is key to enabling communities to move past the fears and stigmas towards those who have been in prison. With understanding, they may be more willing to give them another chance after they are released and accept them back as members of the community.
We have seen that, for many young women in prison, the Christian faith is not something they are interested in or have ever thought much about. We aim to provide opportunities and a safe space for young women to explore questions of faith if that is something they are interested in. It is also important to us as a project that we are faith-based but not faith-biased, and we work with women from all faiths and none.